Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sweet, Southern' Cookin' & the Young'uns It Starves

Kitchen - January 2010

Many people have the misconception that Southern women are unintelligent, submissive creatures that live for no reason other than to cook, clean, and please their man. As one of these gentle, Southern creatures, I feel compelled to address this. Honey, you couldn’t be further from the truth! Oh, we like doing those things, but that ain’t what butters our biscuits. We love helping other people, particularly those down on their luck. You let us find out about someone with sickness or a death in the family, and within 24 hours, they’ll have enough pound cakes and chicken casseroles to feed a third world country.

We cook and clean for our families, and will do the same for anybody else if they just ask. I’d much rather cook for somebody else than for my family. That’s probably because I have four of the pickiest eaters on God’s green earth living under my roof. My husband won’t eat fruits or vegetables, except for potatoes. Bubby is getting a little better, but it’s entirely out of fear, not appreciation for a hot meal. Rae-rae hasn’t eaten a hot meal from our table since 2008, and well, Emma is terrified of Jell-O. 

It’s a shame because I really enjoy cooking. Not as much as I enjoy eating, but pretty close. I come from a long line of good cooks, and I hope Emma will carry on the tradition. My momma can put Paula Deen and her stick of butter to shame any day of the week. My granny was the best cook in the universe, and her momma was a local celebrity for her restaurants and cooking. My other grandma is an awesome cook, too. If anything ever happens to her, I reckon I’ll be payin’ homage to her from the corner booth of the Waffle House, cause it just ain’t Thanksgiving unless everybody’s at Meemaw’s house.

But I guess none of us are perfect. Momma’s kitchen has a 20-year old mayonnaise stain on the ceiling. (Don’t ask.) Her momma cooked meals that would’ve had Jesus arriving fashionably late to the Last Supper with a full belly, but for some reason, she could not remember to take the coffee grounds out of the coffee maker before making the tea in it. Those of us related by blood would suffer in silence so we wouldn’t make her feel bad, but my dear old daddy, the son-in-law, spoke up every time. I can hear it now. “Kathy, this tea’s got a little whang to it.” I’m not saying he did it for enjoyment, but I don’t think it was coffee grounds that put that mischievous gleam in his eye. But that’s alright. She was a good Christian woman. She would apologize, fix everybody something else to drink, and go about her business. I don’t think she minded his pointing out. I know if I had a favorite son-in-law, I would give him pink dress shirts and turquoise ties for Christmas every year. Well played, Little Granny, well played.

But my children complain before they even find out what we’re having. “Dinner time, kiddos. Homemade spaghetti and meatballs. Wash your hands and come on!” Most children would be happy to have spaghetti and meatballs, right? I’m not that out of touch with reality, am I? I fix it for my kids, and do you know how they respond? “C’mon, Bubby, let’s get this over with.” Seriously, ya’ll? For pete’s sake, I ain't fixin’ turnip greens and liverwurst every night!

Apparently, my children have either been told that A) refusing to eat is the way to your mother’s heart, B) it’s ok, Dad will take you to Mickey D’s later, or C) women like to be insulted. I cannot win when it comes to the dinner table. We used to make them sit at the table until they tried their dinner, but we changed that after Rae-Rae, who has a most bothersome case of narcolepsy, aspirated in a mess of soup beans, and Bubby passed out face first in a bowl of chicken noodle soup. If he hadn’t been wearing his Spiderman goggles and snorkel at dinner, I shudder to think what might’ve happened. 

The next phase we went through was the ‘you don’t have to eat what I fix, but you’re not getting anything but fruit or a peanut butter sandwich till morning.’ Hard to fight a battle over that, right? Wrong again. During the steak and gravy rebellion of ’08, Rae-rae refused to eat anything that wasn’t room temperature.  I eventually quit fixing him regular food and resorted to giving him apple slices for dinner. Well, an apple a day may keep his doctor a way, but it made my hair turn gray and brought my shrink here to stay. One night, as he sat there picking at his apples, I asked him in my sweet mother voice if he was enjoying his dinner. The horned minion sitting at my kitchen bar just glared at me, and said “These apples ain’t even good.” You’re welcome, my dear son. Keep it up, and if we ever get enough stuff to bother writing a will, you will so be left out of it. 

Last night, I fixed a pork roast with cinnamon apples, stewed cabbage, and macaroni and cheese. Kids ain't gonna eat vegetables if you don't make them gag on them on a regular basis, right? I honestly wasn't sure what to do with the cabbage, so I texted one of my best friends and asked her. I'd seen jokes about farting and cabbage and other bothersome things, and somehow her name had gotten thrown in the mix. HEY CABBAGE HEAD...HOW DO I COOK CABBAGE?  She told me to boil it, slap a bunch of butter on it and douse it with salt and pepper. Okay, I can handle that. So, I get dinner on the table, and call the kids in there. Rae-Rae makes it to the doorway before his face falls. You see, every night, he's all grins and giggles until he says that we're not having peanut butter and jelly, and then he looks like a Jehovah's Witness at an abandoned house. He eats the whole-grain macaroni, since I'm a health-conscious parent, and I tell him he ain't gettin' up until he tries the pork. He takes a bite...and doesn't gag! I've won the gold, y'all! It must've been the best pork ever 'cuz when Emzilla wouldn't eat hers, Rae-Rae spoke up and said, "Emma, try it. It's kinda decent." They didn't eat the cabbage, but I don't blame them. It tasted like buttery, salty feet. Oh, bless their finicky eatin’, pea-pickin’ little hearts.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Couponing (Mis)Fortune

When times get rough, Southern women start couponing. For many stay at home moms, like me, the number on that receipt under ‘Amount Saved’ is worn like a badge of honor. That number is the culmination of hours spent scouring newspapers for inserts, sending your kids to Guadalajara to collect blinkies for Jell-O pudding cups, and stopping at 47 grocery stores in a 3-day span to get rock bottom prices. I admit it:  I’ve been suckered into it before, and if you spend hours and hours working on it, you can save a ton of money. You pick up on the tips and tricks of fellow coupon clippers and find yourself including Winn Dixie in your bedtime prayers. ‘Oh, heavenly Father, I do hope that you bless Al that works on register 3, and the 50-cent coupons that he never fails to double. And Lord, if you see fit, I’d really love it if I could walk out of the store with overage just once.’ 

However, like most other means of saving money, there are drawbacks to being in the coupon clique. First of all, cashiers will place voodoo curses on your offspring. Nothing will get you on the grocer’s poop list faster than strolling up to the check-out with 19 items that you want rang up in 14 different transactions for the sole purpose of saving $0.75. The cashier will hate you, and so will the seven people behind you in the 20-items-or-less lane. But, hey, if you really need those 75-cents, it’s your prerogative.

My husband never really minded this since he has never, and I mean never, gone to the grocery store with me. Do you think most wives are upset that their husbands don’t go grocery shopping with them? Not in this lifetime. If, God forbid, you make the mistake of taking them with you, you are sure to come home with four pounds of beef jerky, 23 2-liters of Diet Mountain Dew, two boxes of corn dogs, six pounds of hot nuts, a case of WD-40, a 6-foot inflatable goat marked 80% off, a 96-pack of Charmin Ultra, and a box of Swiss Cake rolls.

Unfortunately, this is a lot like couponing. I came home after one of my big couponing trips, and I was hitting the high spots. I’d spent $143, but I’d saved $648! My truck was packed to the brim with everything you could imagine. My love came home from work that night, and I couldn’t wait to show him my receipt. He grabbed my waving arms, and said “Honey, calm down. You can tell me all about it after we eat dinner. I am starving. What are we having?”

How do you find the words to say “take-out” when you just packed $800 worth of crap in your pantry? He was so stunned that he actually asked to see the receipt. Well, it’s about time he takes notice of what a good steward of our money I am! I pulled the 12-foot long receipt out of my purse and let him study it for a moment. I stood there waiting for my pat on the back, and instead got a foot up my butt.

“Darlin’, I know you work hard at this coupon thing, but did we really need 24 boxes of laxatives?” Imbecile…he clearly hasn’t read the whole receipt. When you buy 14 5-lb. logs of government cheese, there is a distinct possibility you’ll need that many laxatives. “Wow, honey, you got baby formula for $3 a bottle. That’s a great price for, um, people that have babies. Is there something you need to tell me?” Why, yes, honey, there is! I thought you’d never ask. I saved $14 per can!

“Okay, so you can donate the formula to the church nursery or food pantry. But what are you possibly gonna do with 10 packs of XXXL Depends?” Wouldn’t you just like to know, pretty boy? If you don’t quit complaining about all the money I just saved you, you’re gonna be wearing every last one of ‘em! He tries, but bless his heart, he just doesn’t understand couponing. By the time we got to the Chinese buffet, he’d raked my butt over the coals for getting amazing deals on 15 coach’s whistles, 2 crates of rotten bananas, Seasons 1-4 of Designing Women on VHS, some polka-dotted panties, and a folding wheelchair. Just for that, I’m not sharing my glow-in-the-dark unicycle with him. (Did I mention I that if I buy 3 more of them, I can get one free?!)  I swear, sometimes men are so unappreciative. Bless their hearts. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Female Mind: Shining a Little Light Into A Dark, Scary Place excerpt from the chapter that every man needs to read...before the woman in his life kills him. Hope y'all enjoy!

From the time we find out we’re pregnant, women's hormones are as logical and predictable as a frog in a blender. There are no longer safe weeks when the guys can come over and watch the game. There are no longer days when your husband knows to sit, down, shut up, and give you chocolate. His calendar of catastrophe is turned upside once that little blessing starts growing.  Rational thoughts vacate the premises, and his chances of doing anything right go from 33% to 0% in a minute. 

“Oh, honey, lilies are my favorites! You haven’t brought me flowers since our anniversary. You jerk; don’t you think I deserve flowers anymore? So what, now that I’m knocked up you don’t have to be romantic anymore?! Oh, but you are romantic, and you're so sweet for bringing me flowers...but aren’t lilies funeral flowers? Oh, God, you’re gonna die and I’m gonna be left all alone with this baby, and I can’t take care of a baby, and ARE YOU LEAVING ME? You’re gonna fake your own death, aren’t you, ya jerk?” 

Men, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

As mommas, we have to make a decision each morning to keep on keeping on. We have to pick up our rose-colored glasses, dust ‘em off, and put them on before we kill somebody. A mother’s attitude affects the entire household…just ask the husbands. It all starts during pregnancy.

“Honey, why don’t you find me attractive anymore?”  Well, sugar buns, it could be that you slapped me that last time I tried to hug you. Or maybe you bulldozed the love shack when you told your yoga class that my troopers wouldn’t salute. No—it was definitely when you called me in the bathroom three times last night to show me something that dang near blinded me for life, just to ask “Does this look normal to you?”

Ladies, the key to a peaceful home is being able to recognize when you’re crazy as an outhouse rat, and finding the inner strength to mutter these simple words:  “Back off, it’s a bad day.”

Now, husbands, you’re not off the hook, so don’t go thinking it’s all your wife’s fault. If you ever want to feel like a stud again, you’d better delete the word ‘hormones’ from your memory bank…. yesterday. Nothing will have you cuddling in a cocoon of celibacy faster than mentioning that word, particularly to third parties. When a man is caught mentioning ‘those things’, he is --for all practical purposes-- signing his storm trooper up for a life of solitary confinement.  There are ways to undo these mistakes, but men, you’d better practice in front of a mirror and know what you’re doing. Here’s a practice exercise for the husbands out there.

Scenario #1
You and your wife became new parents one month ago today. When you get home from work, you notice she’s wearing pajamas, smells like soured milk, and looks like she’s been crying. She approaches to give you a hug, and slowly leans her head against your chest. What do you do?

A)     Gingerly hug her, and ask how her day was.

B)      Wrap her in a warm embrace, and smooth her hair. Tell her it’s okay to cry, and that you understand that it’s tough being a new mom.

C)      Catch her as she reaches to hug you, and point out that soured milk stains mean an extra trip to the dry-cleaners.

D)     Don’t say a word. Hold her silently, and hold the position for 2-3 minutes before pulling away. Go fix her a hot bath, and turn on some relaxing music. For bonus points, fix her a glass of wine.

A)     WRONG! Do you really think she had a good day when she smells like this? Seriously?! You need to work on your approach.

B)      WRONG! So, now she’s an emotional mess and you’ve pointed out that she no longer keeps a clean house, puts on make-up, cooks homemade meals or brings home a paycheck? And really, ‘it’s okay to cry’? What are you, a woman?

C)      WRONG! If you chose this, you’re too stupid to be let out in public. Consider yourself blessed that she agreed to have a child with you. Oh, and now you want to point out that she can’t handle laundry, and since she’s not working, you can’t afford the dry cleaners like you could before? Why don’t you just stab her in the face? It’d be much more humane.

D)     WRONG! Why did you pull away? You don’t find her attractive anymore? She’s smothering you? Oh, and now you’re telling her she stinks and she just needs to relax? Wine? Are you kidding!? You’re topping this off by trying to get the baby loopy from a momma cocktail, probably because you wanna get freaky?!

Men, how did you do? Did you get the right answer? Oh, you didn’t? How odd! That's because I am trying to help you here. When a woman has been physically and emotionally put through the ringer, you cannot win. Anything you say can and will be held against you for the next 50 years, so you’d be best to shut your hole and leave her alone…but a few hours of quality sleep might reduce your sentence.

Men, today I'm gonna bless y'alls hearts. Y'all need it for puttin' up with us. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Momma, Party of One?"

If the dingbats in Washington would listen to a certain Georgia girl, I could get rid of the national debt in one year. The solution? In-patient vacations at General Hospital. As the government is already trying to flush our health system down the toilet, there’s no reason that this shouldn’t be covered as preventative mental health care. If they would charge $50 a night, they’d have China paid off yesterday.

 Picture it…*enter wavy dream sequence…* I’ve had one heck of a week. Monday morning, I get a call from Rae-Rae’s school. “Hi, Mrs. Cox, this is Ms. Clancy from the clinic at the primary school. I have your son here in the office, and we have a little problem.” Oh, Lord, this is not starting off well. I usually make it till at least noon before getting a call. “Reagan came in this morning with a cast on his arm.” WHAT?! Why, thank you for letting me know. He must’ve snuck out to the emergency room after morning snack. “During art time, he stuck a crayon in his cast, and we can’t seem to get it out.” OK, since when does this constitute an emergency? Believe me, when you have my three children, this is nowhere near an emergency.

Wednesday, my little Blondie’s teacher calls. “Yes, Mrs. Cox? This is Mrs. Ortega at the preschool. I’m a little worried about Emma. We always ask the children to use the restroom before laying down for nap time. When she didn’t come back out to her mat, I went to see what she was doing. She has locked herself in the bathroom, apparently flushed her left boot down the toilet, and is laying in the floor singing ‘I Want A Hipponoppadus for Christmas.’ Unless you can tell me how to coax her out, I’m going to need you to come to the school to get her.”

Thursday is usually my day for running errands, and this week was no different. I’ve spent 3-1/2 hours in the grocery store trying to find the ingredients to make the ‘Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Rotini Rumble’ off of Pinterest, and I can’t find seem to find the Rocky Mountain oysters anywhere. (Shouldn’t they be beside the deviled ham spread?!) But I’m in a rush, so I grab some Jimmy Dean, and I’m on my way.

No sooner am I out the door than my phone rings.

 “I’ve been trying to call you for an hour.” Why, I’m fine, honey, and how are you? So glad you called.

“What is the pass code for my truck?” Yes, I slept like a baby last night! I was just enjoying a Mocha Frappy-hunky-chunky-chino deluxe, hold the froth. And what can I do for you this beautiful morning?

“I have been calling you for an hour. What’s the code?” Well, aren’t you glad I have the memory of a Keurig filter? All the chunks that need to go in the trash hang out while all of the good, juicy stuff drips right on through. But since he was so kind, I told him the code.

Ah, Friday at last! Wait just a dad gum minute…I’m a stay at home mom…this TGIF stuff is a bunch of crap. “Congratulations, you survived the first round of motherhood: waking the sleeping monsters, fixing three breakfasts and three lunches in six minutes, time trials at the Pre-K Speedway, and six hours of fighting when they get home.

 “On to Round Two: the weekend! Since you survived Round One, we’ll be taking away the break of school hours today and your lifelines are gone, sucker.

Today’s activities will include:

• Early Bird Gets The Worms (And Puts Them In Your Pillowcase)
• Who Put The _______ in the _______ ?
• Which Burns Longer: Cheerios, Ziploc bags, or Human Hair?

 “Should you survive today’s activities, guess what? You get to do them all over again tomorrow with half, yes, HALF the patience of today. Good luck, and Godspeed.”

 ‘God, speed my butt through to Monday’ is more like it.

But back to the national economy… you’ve made it till Friday night, but your will to survive is struggling…badly. So what do you do? You call 911, and make a reservation for one in the deluxe suite. You know, the one with the remote control lift bed with no children; the 36-inch flat screen sans cartoons; the hourly delivery of cold pillows and warm blankets, hold the dried boogers; and the IV Combo #3, with extra morphine and Ambien.

 Upon check-in, you’ll be asked to select meals for the duration of your stay. Don’t worry about packing; you’ll be lounging in the finest Egyptian cotton pajamas (washed by someone else) and Sleep Number slippers. Should you like a massage during your visit, please pull the red cord in the shower, or press the “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up” button on the remote control. If you feel the urge to talk or share your feelings with others, you may choose from a complimentary, en suite psych consult, or group therapy in the Chapel. Television programming includes the Nicholas Sparks network, Lifetime, the Home Shopping Network, and a range of new releases available On-Demand. But believe me: there ain’t no Nickelodeon or Disney Junior up in here. Doc McStuffins can shove it where the sun don't shine: McSteamy’s on call tonight.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Deep thought for the day...

If a poor person goes out in the woods and pees on a stump, will it attract more poor people? And if so, will the stump be renamed Wal-Mart?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Putting the 'Fun' in Funeral: A Mortifying True Story

Death and funerals are a huge deal in the South, and they should be. It’s the last time to rally around your loved one and bid them adieu until you meet them again. My children, however, do not do well in funeral homes. It’s not that they get scared or upset about there being a body in a casket, or people crying all around. My children are sensitive to those around them, but rather than mourn with them, my children are the ones dancing the meringue around the morgue. 

This past year, my great-uncle passed away, and the kids and I spent the day at the funeral home with our family and friends. Yes, I should’ve known better. While I haven’t witnessed it, I’ve heard stories of my daddy’s funeral home shenanigans, and I should’ve known that my kids got at least part of the gene.

The first few hours went well. Emma was talking to all of the ladies about their jewelry and showing off her painted fingernails. Braxton was up to his eyeballs in what turned out to be a very ill-timed photography and videography phase, and he kept his pocket camcorder with him at all times. And,  well, Reagan was just Reagan, bless his heart. If you’ve met Reagan, you know he’s the one that made my hair turn gray. Love that little booger to death, but he has made me very old very quickly.

Anyway…the kids are pretty good with the whole funeral home scenario. I mean, a room full of food, a Coke fountain, and plenty of places to sit where Momma can’t see you. They’d been sitting in the parlor just outside of the viewing room when Reagan comes over and gives me a hug. (Aw, he’s so sweet!) He turns around and looks in the casket, and gets this pure, T-total devil look on his face. “Hey, Mom, if I take his picture, will I see his ghost?”

“Rae-Rae, I swear to God, I’ll knock your legs out from under you if you even think about getting that camera out.” He pretends to be all innocent (FAT CHANCE!), and says “Would it upset (my aunt)?” I told him that it would definitely upset her, and that he should get rid of that idea yesterday.

So he meanders off, but I know better than to rest easy. He’s gonna make me kill him by the end of the day, there’s not a doubt in my mind. A bit later, I walk out through the parlor and I see him peeking into the room with the casket…but not the one our family is using…and he’s still holding that dad gum camera!

Rae-Rae! What in God’s name are you doing? That’s not our room! “But, Mom, somebody in there was taking pictures! Can me and Bubby go around and take pictures of the other people here? We’ll hide behind the flowers and stuff so they won’t see it." Oh, well if that’s the case, go right ahead, Reagan! I mean, taking pictures in a funeral home might upset people, but if you jump out of the flowers like a stripper out of a birthday cake, that will make EVERYTHING better!

So, I drag him back to our room. I’ve got him by the scruff of the neck with my right hand, and about to rip his ear off with the left. “Boy, sit your butt down before I get them to put you to work.” Well, that sure as heck backfired.

“Really, mom? Like, with bodies and stuff? Do I get to see gross stuff? Do I have to clean up?....”

“Reagan, dude, it’s a joke. But seriously…sit down, and don’t talk again till you get your learner’s license.”

The next few hours pass without incidence. They go outside and walk around some, hang out in the kitchen, and I later found out, dance on the sidewalk in front of the hearses.

We’re getting ready to go get some dinner later when I check on the boys again. They’re on my heels since they’re hungry, so I tell them to go use the bathroom and wash up, and then we’ll go eat.

A couple of minutes pass….Bubby and Rae-Rae are nowhere to be seen. I make a loop around the funeral home to make sure Reagan’s not jumping out of the peace lilies like a spider monkey. No paparazzi, no flash photography:  I can relax. Then I realize that I still don’t know where my boys have gone. Some moms might be worried about their boys, wondering if they’d snuck out or been kidnapped. I’m not one of those. I’m scared to death for the other people in the funeral home. I’m prepared to handle my kids, but that’s because I’ve been baptized by fire. Thank God, I’m not nearly as flammable as I used to be.

In this funeral home, the bathrooms are beside the chapel, around the corner from the kitchen, and there’s a pew out in the hall where guests can sit. I walk back around to the bathrooms, and I see Braxton sitting there lookin’ like the cat that ate the canary. “Braxton, what did you—or your brother—do?”  He’s about to bite a hole through his lip when it all becomes crystal clear to me.

“Braxton, go in there and tell him I am coming in after him if he’s not out here in one minute.”  Braxton is now donning the old ‘Dad, Snickers, stat!’ look when he opens the door. I hear Reagan making some kind of noise in there, but I can’t quite make it out.

The door then opens the rest of the way, and this older, white haired gentleman walks out, and he’s got his hand up over his face. Bless his heart, ya’ll, I just knew he’d lost the love of his life and was wondering he was going to face an empty home. His face was all red, and his shoulders were shaking up and down. I tried to turn away out of respect for his privacy, since after all, I was about to charge in the men’s room swattin’ and swingin’.  This poor ‘ol man slowly lifts his face from his hands, and ….he’s…….smiling?! Oh, God, this is worse than I thought. He rubs his hand over his face, and says “Ma’am, is that one in there yours?” 

Into my hands goes my face. “Yes'sir, I’m afraid that one’s mine. Did he break anything?”  He just smiled at me, patted me on the shoulder, and walked off chuckling. 

And then I hear it….out of the men’s room just outside of the chapel, I hear my husband’s youngest son singing at the top of his lungs…."Shout, shout, let it all out!”  Nothing says mourning like singing Tears for Fears in the crapper. I open the door to the men’s room and apparently hit my horns on the door ‘cuz I’m seeing colors I ain’t never seen before. “Reagan, for the love of God and your own life, get….your…butt….out….here….now!” I am one flowery, pill-box hat away from going completely Thelma Harper at this point.

And then my child, aka the Posthumous Paparazzi and Single-Stall Sinatra, comes struttin’ out, smiles, and says “Hey, Mom!”  Bless his heart.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why Country Singers Ain't Catholic Either

Country Singers Ain’t Catholic Either

Music has always been important to me. I play several instruments, and was told by a professor in college that I have perfect pitch, which means that I can ridicule singers for being off key with the best of them. God made me special:  he gave me perfect pitch, but somehow, when I sing, terrible, terrible things happen. My “Hush Little Baby” serenades are probably why my husband is the favorite parent. But really, I do have an ear for music and I honestly think I’d die without it. Music is in my veins just like my great-granddaddy Willie's moonshine. 

I’d rather slap my granny than call somebody out for being a liar without evidence, but ya’ll, country singers are so full of crap their sweat looks like Yoo-hoo. I grew up on country music, and I love a lot of it, particularly from the 1980’s. I’ve been known to have religious experiences on Highway 20 when my iPod shuffles to ‘Seven Spanish Angels’. I scare my kids to death because they don’t know what to do or say when it happens. Just last week, we were heading to daddy’s office when “I’m Gonna Hire A Whino (to Decorate Our Home)” came on the radio, and my son thought God had just revealed the Mega-Ball numbers to me. The volume went up, and the service started. I closed my eyes (“Mama! The road don’t go that way!”) and lifted my hand in praise…but just to the shoulder level, as I’m still a first generation Pentecostal. I didn’t realize until I heard myself screeching  “and a neon sign that points the way to the bathroom down the hall” that a) I wasn’t in church (thank God), b) I was still driving, and c) I was worshipping during a song that talks about converting my house into a bar. I told ya’ll I can’t be Catholic! I’ve got so much twisted junk spinning through my mind it looks like a spring tornado in South Alabama.  I just can’t wait till I get to church to ask for forgiveness; I’ve got to get it right here, right now, or my demented mind could  keep me separated from Willie and Jesus forever.

But onto why country singers lie. Let’s start that the song we were just talking about. It might be believable if a woman was singing it, but what country music listening, cowboy boot wearing, man of God would ever spend a dime on an interior decorator, alcoholic or not? I know, I know, he added a “she said” to the beginning of each verse and chorus, but when I think of this song, it’s David Frizzell preaching to me. Know what my daddy’s idea of redecorating is? Putting his grass-cuttin’, holey jeans in the floor on the other side of the bed. You don’t believe me? Let somebody move those bad boys, and family peace will vanish like a fart in the wind.

I heard another song on the radio the other day that made me want to ask forgiveness on the singer’s behalf because if he’s not married to a supermodel, he is indeed full of fecal matter. He went on and on about how beautiful this woman is when she wakes up in the morning. He goes on to say that she’s more beautiful in blue jeans in a t-shirt than in expensive clothes. Now, he could be married to a truly beautiful woman that is just perfect all the time, and if that’s the case, I’d like to meet her so I can punch her in the goozle. But I am more inclined to say….LIAR!

I wasn’t the ugliest dog on the leash in my younger days, but I’ve never been what you would call an attractive woman. I now have three amazingly beautiful children, and I have concluded that my anemic levels of aesthetic pleasure increasingly diminished with each round of childbirth. Some women glow when they’re pregnant; I went nuclear. I didn’t get the rosy cheeks that showed the promise of new life; I got a haz-mat suit in the mail from Homeland Security cuz my pregnant glow seemed to indicate a security breach in Area 51. 

 If you saw me roll out of bed in the morning, beautiful is not the word that would flow from your lips. When I get up and stagger my way to the bathroom in the mornings, I could haunt a house with a big ‘ole front porch.  I stagger around in my Old Navy night shirt that has these cute, colorful doodles all over it. It looked adorable on the hanger in the store, but when I slip it over my linebacker shoulders, it magically transforms into a spirographic nightmare. Hasbro should be paying me hush money to stay away from doors and windows.

Remember all those conspiracy theorists that said Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon was fake? If it weren’t for it happening 10 years before I was born, they could’ve made their case on Mythbusters with a 20X magnification mirror, and a mess of cold cream, and my morning facade. But God knew what He was doing when He brought my husband into my life. You see, he’s in construction, so he understands how much spackle and paint it takes to make certain things presentable. He knows and respects how much work it takes this Southern girl to put her face on. He no longer tells his buddies to drop in when they get a chance; for the sake of their own life and functioning optical nerves, he lets me know at least an hour before anybody’s coming. So,to David Frizzell and Cover Girl cosmetics, bless ya’lls hearts.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dear God (With a Side Note to Sam Walton)

Dear God,

Thanks for being awesome. You always know just what I need, and even it greets my present condition like the BP oil spill greeted the Gulf, I know that if I wade through the muck, there’s a shining reason for it on the other side. Thanks for my kids. They’re not perfect, but neither am I, and together we make an imperfect concoction that somehow just works. When the kids decide to stink up my truck while waiting in line to drop their little sister off, I think a lot of mom’s would be disgusted and proceed to lecture them on manners. But that’s not how you made me. You made me to delight in locking the windows and smiling through the pain while they gag on their own farts. Our little family is like carrots and Nutella:  a little offensive at first glance, but surprisingly pleasant when you give it a chance.

Thanks for my husband, too. He’ll come home after catching a red-eye flight from D.C. and just smile when he comes in. Emma runs up to greet him with her hair pulled up in a unicorn horn, and Bubby’s chasing her with a Bounty tube on his head, yelling “I’m a manicorn, I’m a manicorn!” Rae-Rae’s sitting on the couch laughing at You only know what, dropping bottom bombs like it’s Hiroshima. But my knight in shining armor walks in and sees me, in my fourth straight day of flannel pants and a sweatshirt, with tears streaming down over my smile, clutching the pearls, sobbing “Honey, I did it! I found out why Leroy’s eyes are crossed! Thank you, Jesus!”  It’s not just any man that will come home to that and  know that everything’s just as it should be.

Since I’ve got you on the line, could you tell me if there’s one Mr. Sam Walton up there with you? If so, I’d be much obliged if you could give him a message for me. You see, I went to do my weekly grocery shopping trip this morning, and I’d done really well. No extra junk, all of the fixings for my weekly menu, and maybe, just maybe, a couple bucks under budget. This nice little lady wearing a name badge offers to ring me up on a self-checkout lane. (That’s kind of ironic, huh?) 

Well, in the meat department, I apparently got there right after the manager did mark-downs, so I had several yellow tag items. A long time ago, I would’ve never bought clearance meat, but when you're walking down the bread aisle and hear little Miss Sunbeam chanting "bend over and I'll show ya!", you've got to make some sacrifices. 

So she’s ringing me up, and a pack of marked down round steak wouldn’t ring up the right way. She scans everything else, and beams me up to the Self-Checkout observation register. She tries to void out the overcharged item, but it voids out the reduced price, so I’m still getting’ the short end of this stick. Seven grey hairs later, she calls over a CSM to override it. By the time my transaction is finished, there are five, count them….FIVE, Wal-Mart managers and cashiers trying to ring up this dad gum piece of meat. Now, Mr. Walton, once upon a time, customers would get a break if they’d waited 30 minutes to pay for something in your store. But guess what I got? The generosity of the CSM to go put the meat back in the meat department because THEY WOULDN’T SELL IT TO ME! They could not override the price the way it ‘should be’ done, and they refused to sell it to me. Sorry kids, looks like it’s gonna be Spam and gravy this week.

Lord, I thank you again for your many blessings. Bless my hands as I prepare our meals, though mystery meat they may now contain. I look forward to talkin’ to you again later today, and if you could give Sam that message, I’d greatly appreciate it. And Father, I know I still ain’t Catholic, but this whole Wal-Mart thing has put darkness in my heart this morning. But that’s why you are God, and I’m just me. I don’t know how you do it…just trying to be good wears me out. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Polar bears clearly mature more quickly...

Yesterday, the kids and I were on the way back from lunch with my mom, and Bubby, my 11 year old son, starts talking about this project he did on polar bears. He said "Momma, do you know what's kind of crazy? Polar bear cubs only stay with their moms for about two years; then they go off on their own like they're adults."

Rae-Rae (8), who was born to argue, chimes in. "Braxton, you're full of crap. That would be like Emma running around taking care of all her own business. Do you know how stupid that is?"

"Well, it ain't stupid 'cuz that's what the research said, you stupid jerk." (Bubby is so sweet and patient.)

"Well, then I guess it's clear to ALL of us that polar bears clearly mature faster than people do. Mom, can we trade Bubby for a polar bear because they're SO mature, and he's not?"

Rae-Rae:  1, Bubby: 0.

Mercurochrome, Tussin, and other Cure-Alls

Ya'll, this is a true story, I swear on the Bible. It wasn't nearly as funny at the time, but since regaining control of my bodily functions, I can look back and laugh about it. Enjoy, ya'll!


Mercurochrome, ‘Tussin, and Other Homemade Elixirs

All you needed to survive in the good 'ol days was Mercurochrome, a li’l Tussin, and any one of a variety of liquor-based elixirs. If you ain’t heard of it, Mercurochrome was this medicine that achieved more drama than anything. By puttin’ this metallic red liquid on a paper cut, you too could look like you’d been a chainsaw juggler. It also had the notable ability to minimize minor injuries of children. You see, when you ran that little plastic wand over little Jimmy’s exaggerated boo-boo, it was a reminder of the burning flames of hell that laid in wait for children who lied to their mommas and daddies. It killed the germs, the feeling in your extremities, and occasionally the will the live. You could pick it up for a buck down at Eckerd’s, and now you know why you can’t buy it anymore. Cheap medicine always goes away.

Tussin was a similar miracle drug. If you had a tickle in your throat, a life-threatening case of the whooping cough, or a VW bug convention in your bronchioles, you needed a little Tussin. Trying to resuscitate Mr. Whiskers? Pour some Tussin on him. Need to clean your spark plugs? It’s on Aisle 9 by the Vicks salve. I don’t think it came with directions back then. I can’t recall ever seeing grannies and granddaddies read medicine labels. You’d take a swig outta the bottle, and if they found you naked in the basement singing ‘It’s Raining Men’, you’d get a shorter swig next time.

That reminds me of the time a few years back when my husband bought this magical elixir called “Dr. Tichenor’s Mouth Wash Concentrate and Antiseptic”…and secret weapon of the United States Marine Corps. First of all, who ever got the idea of putting kerosene in a mouth wash bottle and slappin’ a label on it should be shot. Second of all, and it pains me to say this:  folks, please read labels.

My better half had bought a bottle, and left it on the bathroom counter. I see the word “mouthwash”, and think ‘hmmm…morning breath:  1, me: 0. I’ll give it a shot.’ And by a shot, I mean I poured me a generous shot glass of it. Pour, swish, rinse, repeat, pour, swish, rinse….oh God, Momma, it burns! Ya’ll, I ain’t lyin’. My eyes swelled shut, my medulla oblongata started drippin’ out of my nose, I started foamin’ at the mouth like a rabid possum. If I could’ve seen to have found the toilet, I’d have rinsed my head and cleaned out our drain lines in one fail swoop. But I was at least 8 feet from the toilet; it might as well have been in Kazakhstan.  I’m stuck with no help in sight. Standing there in my drawers, foam oozing outta my kisser, and sobbing like a baby from where my eyes used to be, I was a broken woman. I needed a tracheotomy, but found myself Bic-less.  Suddenly, I remembered:  my phone was on the counter! Dear God, please don’t have let my phone battery have gotten corroded during all this mess!

*Phew!* I found the phone, and by touch and memory, I managed to call my husband despite the disabling of three of my senses.  Please, please, please, let him answer! I need him to tell the kids I love 'em, and there’s a Tater Tot Casserole in the fridge for supper.’

It rings once….twice… “Hey babe.” (That’s how he answers my calls…ain’t he sweet?)
“Plobble! Whabble ibn the blubble ibiz…BLIND! Shoaming from da moush…can’t feel ma lagsh…9-1-1…oh, how I shlub Gee-jush, but Gee-jush, why can't I shee?!

A good 10 minutes later, he somehow understood what I’d done. Drank fire, peed my pants, and gotten surprisingly fresh breath all in the time it took to make a cup of coffee.

Folks, this is why it’s important to find your soul mate. From hearing his name, Plobble, ooze down  my face, he stayed with me (though finding much amusement in my paralysis and correlating incontinence); kept asking me questions to keep me alert  (“Noble, I habn’t hibbit the bobble early today, Jabbick-Abbis!”); and held my hand across the miles until my left-eye reopened for lunch. That’s love, ya’ll.

PS- I bet at least one of ya’ll found yourself sayin' my lines aloud just now. Nothin’ but love, ya’ll. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Once You Go Pentecostal, You Never Go Back.

I have dealt with depression since I was a teenager. From the days of “but momma, I luuuuuuuuv him” to postpartum depression to life’s little dips and slumps, depression is as ever present as Cheerios in my kitchen sink. Some days are fine. Some days, I want to cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate, my Mandy doll, and a unicorn pillow pet. But on the bad days, it’s all I can do to not go for a walk in the parking lot of the Oriental grocery store.

For a long time, I struggled with my relationship with God in regards to my sickness. And it truly is a sickness. I can’t recall how many preachers and teachers I’ve heard say or imply that if you was living right, you wouldn’t have depression. Oh really? Would you tell Oatmeal Brimley that if he hadn’t been a glutton on Halloween, he wouldn’t be afflicted with the diabeetus? That he should pray his ailin' sugar away? No, you certainly would not.

The Bible isn’t clear on a lot of things, and the more advanced our civilization becomes, the more gray areas we find ourselves facing. I know it certainly doesn’t address prescription drugs, or there’d be a lot more lawyers in church waiting to pounce. Can you imagine if the good book addressed these things? “Thou shalt not partake of thy anti-depressants or thou shall be cursed with abdominal abundance, fatigue and constipation all the days of your life.”

But like the issue of depression, there are a lot of things that aren’t talked about from the pulpit. And that’s okay! When you were a kid, would you have done a lick of homework if your teacher stood up front and gave you all the answers? Not unless you were a lot more ambitious than me. Church is kind of like that. The answers are there, but God ain’t gonna beat ‘em into you.

When I was little, I learned how to take amazing naps under the church pews. I think it’s genetic. When my brother was the ring-bearer in my aunt’s wedding, he commando crawled a country mile under the church pews before she sealed the deal. It’s really not a bad place. Personally, I think that’s why most churches use chairs instead of pews now: to limit the napping accommodations.

Not long after my husband and I were married, we visited the church he grew up in. I’d never gone Pentecostal before, so I didn’t know what to expect. This Baptist girl was shaking in her boots. The music was great, and I really enjoyed it. Lively, free of clapping on one and three, and sang by talented ladies and gentlemen, it made me feel right at home. But then it started to pick up the pace, and I started shifting in my seat. In the middle of this beautiful day, a tornado siren started going off. I was confused! Sunshine poured in through the windows, not a cloud was in the sky, but this loud, wailing noise climbed in pitch and intensity by the moment.

Well, evidently it was the doorbell of the Holy Spirit. Things started to get a little wild at this point. I heard a loud noise, and I would’ve sworn on all that is holy that the Second Coming was upon us. All I could think was “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I know I ain’t Catholic, but I’m really drawing a blank here. Hold on, Granny, I’ll be there soon!” What puzzled me was my husband’s behavior.  How in the world could he be sitting there calmly smiling when Jesus Christ was 10 feet away in the vestibule?!

So he’s laughing; I’m starting to jitter like a sprayed roach; and I’m awaiting the grand finale of my Lord and Savior.  My husband is about to bite a hole through his lip when he does this backwards nodding gesture with his head. Positive that we are living on borrowed time, I quickly glance behind him to see where this pounding is coming from. The noise was coming from under my husband’s chair! ‘Honey, whatever you do, do…not….move!’ Sweet Jesus, the hounds of hell are bustin’ up in Ocilla, and he’s sat us right smack on top of the doggy door. Mother Mary, Sister Bertha Gertrude, Uncle George and anybody else that’s listening, I’ll be there soon!’

The siren is wailing like Larry Munson after a loss when she flips into overdrive, and her feet apparently catch on fire. I’ve seen line dancing, I’ve seen ballet. I’ve seen the do-si-do, I’ve seen the tango, but I ain’t ever seen moves like Jolene did that Sunday morning. That woman should be on Dancing With the Stars. Like one of those river dancers, she’s not moving from the waist up, but she is sure enough cutting a jig in her fiery flats. But a woman can only take so much before her “core”, for you yoga lovers, wears out, the Spirit takes her over clean up to her eyeballs, and she becomes the host of the spirit of Liberace. Waving her hands back and forth like testing the heat of the grease for fried chicken, she easily had a wingspan of 12-and-a-half feet. It was a God’s miracle that she didn’t take flight. I think I must have blacked out because I don’t have the foggiest idea what happened after that.

Well, it turns out it the noise was just the wooden leg of the old man sitting behind us pounding against the floor. I guess Jesus don’t care if you have a foot on the end or not. But I learned a few things that day. I realized that just like the Bible says, He will return in the blink of an eye, and we’d better be ready. I realized that people worship in all different ways, and they are all wonderful. And I learned that I can’t ever be Catholic  ‘cause I sin too much, and I can’t afford to keep a priest on retainer. God blesses those with a cheerful spirit, and you ain’t got no right to let anything stop you from worshiping.  Bless their hearts.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Repent, you Buffington Blue Devils. A Tribute to My Beloved Elementary School

An excerpt from a chapter dedicated to my beloved elementary school. I hope you like it. 
Probably my favorite parts of Buffington were the gym and the playgrounds. We didn’t have lacrosse teams, intramural cooperation exercises and yoga classes. We played dodge ball with those red rubber balls that’d blister your butt cheeks like the playground slide in September. We played contact sports. We had to climb a rope that hung from the roof without safety harnesses. If you fell, you’d better hope Mr. Red (not his real name) hadn’t polished the floor lately, for if he did, you weren’t gonna stop till you hit the sinner’s altar across the street at Philadelphia Baptist Church.

But what will make some of you outsiders hug your trees a little tighter is our school mascot:  the Blue Devils. When I say Blue Devils, I don’t mean some cornflower-hued baby sporting little horns and carrying a shiny gold scepter. Our school mascot was a blue demon straight from the pit of hell. This mascot is why everybody went to church back then. The best part of sunny days at Buffington was getting to play outside, and not being watched by the blue Beelzebub behind the visitor’s basket.

Right before I left Buffington, the PC virus snuck in. I’m talking about politically correct, not computers. The only computers we had essentially converted the old stage into a sauna computer lab, and housed five idolized floppy disks of Oregon Trail. (Dad gum it, Lucille, how many times can one person die from typhoid?!) But sadly, we were told to change our beloved demon mascot, and our emasculated house of learning became home to the Buffington Bombers, the ferocious little teddy bears wearing bomber jackets and goggles. The devil mascot may have put a bunch of us in therapy, but I hope to God they never won another game after they took his ugly mug off of that gym wall. Bless his heart.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Leroy- An Excerpt from what I hope will be my first book.

That's right. I'm going to give it a shot. I want to write a book. I started writing again last week, and I'm happier than I have been in years!  I'd like to share an excerpt from a chapter I call "Leroy, the Basset Coon Hound". Hope you enjoy! If you enjoy it, please follow it, share it, twerk tweet it, do what you will to help get it out there. Be blessed, friends!


Leroy was never what you would call an attractive dog. You’ve heard the saying ‘never seen an ugly baby.’ I always thought that applied to puppies, too, but God broke the mold after making poor Leroy. God truly doesn’t make mistakes, but He is also a loving and compassionate God, and consequently He never made another creature that homely. Leroy was a rescue dog. He used to belong to Mr. Johnson, but everything changed with the NSPCA came to town. They wanted to shoot their new commercial in our town’s new Animal Shelter, and they decided to wander around town and get a feel for it before rolling the cameras. Now Mr. Johnson’s place was on the backside of beyond, but of course, these tree-hugging, dog-stroller-pushing fanatics were on him like stank on a fart. I don’t want to go into too much detail here. Just know that there was an incident involving Mr. Johnson, his basset hound quartet, a water hose, and a fifth of Jose Cuervo that resulted in Leroy’s immediate removal. If you want to know the rest of the story, Sunday services start at 10:30.

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials on television begging for money for abused animals, and I genuinely feel sorry for these animals. How anyone could starve, abuse or chain up animals is beyond me. But, in this era of political correctness, I can’t help but wonder if they don’t use the donations to buy organic, gluten-free tofu chews for Sparky the one-eyed mutt, or fur-conditioning, breast-enhancing catnip for a schizophrenic, bisexual kitten named Glen/Glenda. But back to Leroy…

Leroy’s gigantic ears drew people to him instantly. Soft and floppy, they begged people to pet him.  Leroy’s smile would melt the heart of the Grinch. It advertised his pleasant disposition and loyalty like a billboard advertising *ahem* struggling young women in college on I-75 south of Perry. But Leroy, bless his heart, was as cross eyed as paranoid Siamese twins, which put some serious constraints on his hunting skills. 


Leroy has quite the adventure, just so you know. Help spread the word, and help Leroy's story come to fruition! <3

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When Parents Cross the Line....the Mason-Dixon Line

I come from a long line of Southern sweet tea drankin’, Bible totin’, butt whoopin’ mommas and daddies, and I thank God for that. You see, these Southern parents have mastered the art of cross-curriculum education. Let’s look at the marriage of Speech Communications and Anatomy. If li’l Billy Ray got a smart mouth, he didn’t get a time out:  he got his back porch painted red. And guess what? Billy Ray would remember this anatomic anomaly every time he sat down. This simple lesson has taught a mess of Southern children about the nerve that connects the wagging tongue to the buttocks. Untamed mouth= sore drawers. Simple science.

Another curriculum I am fond of is Physical Education with Physics and Language Arts. When you don’t use the right language, like sir, ma’am, please and thank you, you will quickly learn the factors involved in getting your backside propelled into the yard. Speed, velocity, energy and force all become as clear as the Hooch in July when your granny ejects you into Kujo’s corner. Sweet little Southern grannies are a precious thing, but don’t let ‘em fool you. You disrespect the Bible, your elders or anything else they deem respectable, her size 5 1/5 Sunday shoes are gonna be kickin’ your butt so fast your head will spin. By the time she’s done with you, you’ll be wondering where in the heck she’s been hiding Kevin Butler and the herbal supplements.

This past weekend, one of my sons went to a birthday sleepover at a classmate’s house up the street. Now, the birthday boy is one of the little angels that was picking on my son a few weeks ago. But *ahem* that situation has been remedied, and they are now buddies.  I go to get him on Sunday, and one of the first things my son says is “Momma, he backtalks all the time. His momma will tell him to do something, and he’ll just say ‘whatever’!”  Do you know how happy it made me to realize that my son recognized this? But it wasn’t his telling me about it that made this amusing; it was the look on his face. My son looked like he’d just watched The Exorcist! I’m pretty sure he whimpered. It’s like he was afraid of what I might do to the child the next time I saw him. Now, here is the difference between my people and your skinny jean wearin’, ‘yes dear’ daddies and the yoga chanting, chai tea slurping, candy-is-from-the-Devil mommas. This healthy fear is not a bad thing! Do you think I would ever go nuts and start beatin’ kids right and left in an effort to teach them some manners? No. But do my kids need to know that? Absolutely not.

I’m starting to think this is the key to parenting. (DISCLAIMER:  my children are still young, and because of that, I am labelling myself an inexperienced, Pollyanna parent who probably has no clue what lies ahead.) Your child should know that you love them unconditionally…but that doesn’t mean you love everything they do. Your child should know that it’s ok to make a bad decision every once in a while, but that if they keep on, they’ll be getting that value meal supersized for the three of you on prom night. Your child should know that people get hurt in the real world, but that good momma’s and daddy’s will at least threaten to deal with the offenders in such a way that will make Candy Man look like Mary Freakin’ Poppins. Your child should know that you will be there to catch them when they fall, but that don’t mean you’re gonna make a soft pallet for the landing like Granny would.

My children honestly believe that I am one Snickers bar away from a nuclear meltdown. (And they’re not entirely wrong.) I don’t have an Emergency Broadcasting System warning, but my kids know the signs. My son has actually messaged my husband at work to warn him.

BAD DAY *stop* NO CHOCOLATE *stop* RED EYES *stop* BIBLE? *stop* HERSHEY 911*stop* OH GOD, HURRY *stop*.

And do you know what happens on those days? My children think of past lessons in Anatomy, Language Arts, and Physical Education, and they think before they act. As Phil Robertson would say, “that’s not such a bad thing.” And occasionally, they’ll bring the teacher a small piece of chocolate. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Very Pinteresting Journey: I Want To-> I Can-> I’m Trying-> Sweet Jesus, What Have I Done?

Here on semantic sister, I want to create a flow that connects my entries like a wad of Big League Chew in the dryer.  With only a few entries to date, I thought this might be difficult, but I’m no shrinky dink.  Tell me I can’t do something, and I’m on it like a young lawyer on a pharmaceutical mishap.

Let me preface this by explaining how much I love language. I love learning the origins of words, studying their differences between languages, and using them as my personal board game pieces. At our last church, our Sunday School class was the best. Nothing but love to the other classes, but Brother Greg’s class is where it’s at! One thing I love about his teaching is how he digs not only into the verses of the Bible, but digs into their translations and origins like Ross Gellar through Jurassic Park. He just has a way of lifting the words off the page and looking at what’s behind the ink. Definitely blessed to have been in his class! But back to Pinterest….

Let’s consider a few anagrams.
                “Pinterest”:  Tense Trip  (No kidding!)
                “Pinterest Success Stories”:  Cretinous Septic Stresses (Again, not a far stretch!)
                “I Can Do It”- Into Acid
                “Oh, how cute!”- Oh! Wet Ouch
                “Glue gun disaster”- Suggested Urinal

Admit it, you love Pinterest. You’ve tried the crafts, roasted the veggies, pondered the exercise, labeled the cat box, and alphabetized the M&M’s. Pinterest is the modern woman’s MacGyver handbook. (Ding, ding!)  What that sweet e-board of Martha Stewartness doesn’t show is the number of failed projects. I have had many successes with Pinterest, such as the Tangled birthday decorations for my daughter, the no-instructions-needed no sew fleece blankets (with  instructions, of course), the cute wreath made of metallic meshy ribbon stuff, and my favorites, the 5,000 uses of Sharpie pens.

But all good things must come to an end…and they end in my kitchen. The homemade breakfast pastries that turn out just like Pop-Tarts, the roasted veggie sticks that “children just love”, and how to get from clucking chicken to Coq au Vin in 12 minutes flat. First of all, I appreciate the effort that some dillusional moron brave soul put into these attempts. Second of all, my children do not love veggies. They do not like them baked or fried, they do not like them boiled, I tried. They will not eat them with pasta or cheese, “mom, stop cooking this crap please, please, please!” Third of all, I do not appreciate being lied to. Unless you have access to positive-reinforcement chickens with synchronized iPads, chicken don’t happen that fast! “C’mon, little Clarence, it’s just a sauna. If you don’t get in now, you’re going to miss your 4:30 appointment. Did I mention there’s wine involved?”

Well, it’s time to meet with my advisor to discuss my inherent reluctance to brainwashing. Oops, let me rephrase that:  “How to be a positive, nurturing role model for children from every walk of life despite showers of spitballs, threats with utensils, and 25 minions wearing Tommy Hilfiger Sassy Pants while I sport Goodwill clearance du jour.” Be blessed, my friends.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I have failed you, Richard Dean Anderson.

Don't act like you don't know who he is. If you were a child of the 80's, you respected the leather jacket wearing, acid-washed jeans totin', flullet wearin' handyman of doom. (For those of you not fluent in the language of 'ya momma'n 'em', a flullet is a carefully teased and fluffed mullet.) But I digress...

The 1980's birthed certain icons that applied Hypercolor to the canvas of our lives, and to me, MacGyver was a paintbrush in the hands of Bob Ross. Never before had a piece of Juicy Fruit, a plastic spoon and hemorrhoid cream had the capacity to dismantle sinister plans of world domination. The man could do anything, anytime, anywhere. But in the spirit of  "hey ya'll, watch this", I have failed him.

Picture it...Buford, Georgia, 2013. The children are inside playing, my husband is out looking at a potential new house with a friend, and your girl Semantic Sister decides to do some yard work. Rake a few leaves, clean out the flower beds, and wrap it up with a spin on the old Husqvarna. Everything starts great...straight out of the NumNums with Nature section of Highlights magazine. Braxton comes outside with me, and we begin unearthing creatures from the flower bed. Our haul included 7 earthworms, a spotted Salamander, and some eight-legged son of a gun that had me in the fetal position sucking my thumb. Braxton and Emma capture the friendly ones and open their worm farm for business; they're still awaiting their first paying visitors.

So, onto the action. There's just something about a riding lawn mower that brings out the redneck in all of us. Struttin' towards the shed like John Wayne through the tumbleweeds, I throw open the doors and prepare for battle. Crank it up, back it out of the shed (without shifting it on it's foundation this time!), and head around front. The front yard gets mowed, everything is smooth sailing...and I approach the back. I can't promise that I heard a blood-curdling scream as I drove through the gate, but it was definitely a possibility.

Let me preface this by saying that our backyard was apparently a mine field in a past life. Enormous craters, steep drop-offs, and remnants of explosions and experiments that I can't begin to fathom.

So I'm cruising back to the wire fence on the back, along the edge of one of these steep banks. I could plead the fifth, but I will be forthcoming and admit that I have lodged the mower on this hill several, several times. My husband knows that when it the mower goes quiet and he hears the backfire a few seconds later, he needs to pull me off the hill. But little Horror Holly Homemaker has to cut the grass while he's gone so it will be a, in the words of Gomer Pyle, "surprise, surprise, surprise!"

I hit the gas on that bad boy, and am determined to not get stuck on the hill. *silence* Yep, that silence was me getting stuck. Insert MacGyver theme song. Hey, no problem! I've seen my darling use an extension cord as a towing rope to pull it off of this hill before, and I can definitely do that, right? Well, I don't have the four-wheeler keys, but I can back my Navigator back there and tow it off the hill. Braxton sees me backing my truck up, and has the nerve to say "Mom, I don't think we should do this." Can you believe the nerve of this kid, to doubt my MacGyver mojo?

But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Fine, I say, let's try to pull it back up the hill. One, two, three...PULL!!! Do you know what pull stands for? Previously United Lumbar (now) Limp. Slippery hill + flip flops + the most uncoordinated person since Peg Leg Pete hopped on a pogo stick= I hear angels singing! I'm not sure where my coccyx was last week, but as of lately, it's serving as a petry dish for the fluid on my knee. First injury:  out of the way. I took one for the team, broke my buttocks, and moved on to the plan involving the truck.

Back it up, tie it up, ready to roll. I ask Braxton to turn the steering wheel so that once I've successfully towed it out, it won't roll back down the hill. So, technically, I did not tell him how far to turn the wheel. Nevermind... crank up my truck, put it in gear, slowly pull up. It's at this point that my genius plan morphed into a disaster that has left me unable to walk erect or enjoy my couch without ye old padded butt cushion.

Pull, pull, pull...*#&$! I'm a lady and I don't like to use my angry words, but if I did, I would've gotten my money's worth here. My husband's idol, I mean lawnmower, is no longer stuck on the hill. It's now sliding into the wire fence....down the hill....upside down. I flipped the bad boy in about 3 seconds flat. Fortunately, no one was under it, no one was on it, and no one was injured. Shut off the truck, apply the emergency brake (because anything less would be unsafe!), and hop out. Well, if you turn it upside down with a truck, surely you can right it with a truck, as well. What goes down must come up, right? I'm pretty sure that's what Sid the Science Kid said. So I untie the cord, retie it around the steering wheel, and reposition the truck to flip the mower upright. I begin to pull up when I hear a loud pop. Oh God, my career dissipation light is going into overdrive, as Billy Baldwin would say. I lean under the mower and am relieved to find that the pop was just the seat hitting the ground. Can I get an "atta girl" for not breaking the steering wheel?

Granted, my feet are now covered in gasoline from the leaking tank, but thank God, this is one Cox family story that doesn't involve fire. Round Two:  slippery mud + gasoline+ delusions of He-Man strength= a dance move I named the Coccyx Crumble. Flat on my butt, again. Covered in gasoline, again. The mower is sliding, again. My pants are now soaked in gasoline. As a mom of boys, all I can think is 'Dear Lord, if I fart, I'm going to blow Dacula and half of Buford into the Georgia Dome.' Fortunately, my ankle caught the mower on it's way down the hill...even stopped it. (Yeah, I'm bragging!) All movement has ceased. I'm pretty sure I'm drifting towards the light. No, not that light, just the headlights on the mower that's now twisting like a slow-motion disco ball.

At this point, I go in the house and light a candle in remembrance of my previously clean driving record. I leave the darned thing upside down, one slight shift away from the ravine behind the fence, and honestly not giving a rat's behind. I glance down and see the elephant man gnawing on my ankle bone. But when you're wearing the potential Flaming Drawers of Doom, you gotta closed.

Today was Sunday. I'm still mastering my walk to be in the 'Walking Dead', the elephant man vacated the premises after leaving me with a wicked foot hickey, and I believe the children fed my coccyx to the worm farm. And do you know what I did this afternoon?  I mowed the backyard.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

From Dr. Scholl's to the Pig-skin 'pocalypse

I don't understand why people like feet. Particularly fetishes. I mean, they're great for getting you around, donning the occasional toe ring, and tripping the creepy creepers of Wal-Mart  handing out pamphlets to save the world. And shoes...gorgeous shoes make life bearable! (If you see any at Goodwill, lemme know!) If I had a fairy godperson, I would want it to be Jimmy Choo. But I don't, and my size 6-1/2 bad boys haven't earned me much in this life. Thankful? Yes. Salivating at their sensuousness? Gimme a break.

Welcome to my blog. This is my e-world of recollection, therapy sessions, and homemaker confessions. Be warned...this isn't the fairy tale happily ever after of some size 2, tennis-playing mommy's day at the playgroup. If you don't know me, let me welcome you to my life. Pardon the mountain of shoes in the foyer and the path of shed clothing, thanks to a four year old leaning toward a life as a nudist. I have three children. Braxton, my eldest, is 11, and on most days, the words I associate most with him are tender, spastic, and Disney-obsessed. Great heart, great kid, love him to pieces. In short, he is the reason we have more than one child. It's not by chance that God gave us him first. Next is Reagan, aka the one that gave himself a black eye watching cartoons this morning. Apparently, a Tony Hawk t-shirt is not quite the same as an authentic Superman cape. Eight years old, sweet as pudding, aggravating as a Chihuahua on Mountain Dew and Pop-rocks, and generally speaking, the one that gets hurt every time I look away. We were comfortable with our two children, but still  wondered "what if we had a girl?". Don't get me wrong, Emma is sweet, smart, beautiful, and I couldn't imagine her not being in our lives, but if you ask "what if" and no one answers you....

My husband I have been married for 13 years, and it has been wonderful. We have a joint-custody Schizophrenic marriage. From January to August, he is my loving husband, the devoted father of my children, and one of the nicest men you could ever want to meet. Unfortunately, September always rolls around, and I see him slip away from me. His sweet words of encouragement transform into growling barks. His Saturday mornings with the family turn into I-don't-know-where-he-is-but-if-the-tv's-on-you better-back-that-thang-up. But the worst is yet to come: the pigskin 'pocalypse. The actions of a few dozen young men in tight pants hold the keys to my Sundays. A 'w' at the end of the day usually leads to a pleasant Sunday: singing hymns of praise to the coach, preaching on the moral fabric of today's young athletes, and a twinkle in his eye that resembles the old crystal football in a bubble cloud of thought.

But when the losses come...well, that's when the learning begins. You learn which sportscasters were born out of wedlock. You learn which coaches' mothers were cocker spaniels, and sometimes, if you're lucky, you can hear the tale of a lucky horseshoe that somehow became lodged in the backsides of an entire football time. Let me close by saying:  I'm glad that fairy tale isn't illustrated. Be blessed, my friends.