Monday, December 28, 2009

Blame it on the milkman


Sigh. Today was my big “Back to work with a vengeance” day, and I woke up with a searing migraine. And, I use the word “searing” because it felt like someone had stuck a hot fire poker through my skull and was slowly twisting. In other words, it was a doozie.

Fortunately, there’s medicine for it. Only one problem, it was at the pharmacy, and I had to go get it. So, as I waited in the drive thru line with my head on the steering wheel, watching the woman in front of me swinging her fist at (and missing) her two small kids as they bounced around in her back seat, I wondered, Why don’t pharmacies deliver?

I would tip them really well; I promise. I mean, heck, I’m already paying $23 a headache pill, what’s 20% gratuity on top of that?

Another item I wish were home delivered is milk. I say bring back the milkman! What happened to the poor fellow anyway? Maybe he suffered from “Blame the milkman” syndrome. I don’t know, but, oh, what I would do to have milk in the house when we need it, which is every single day. Yes, we are out of milk every day. I’ve tried buying two gallons of milk at a time. Know what happens? We are out of two gallons of milk every day.

My boys love to drink milk. When I say boys, I mean my eight-year-old and my husband, who is really an eight-year-old trapped in an adult man’s body, methinks. We girls, my daughter and I, who really need to drink milk since osteoporosis runs in the family, rarely touch the stuff.

Therefore, I never know if we are close to being out until I get the “Stop by and get milk” phone call, which is usually when I’m on the way home from the pharmacy! At the very least, I should be able to pick up a gallon of milk at a drive thru. We used to have a drive thru beer store, so why not a drive thru milk store?

All of this thinking is making my head hurt again. Think I’ll take another $23 pill and wash it down with a cold glass of milk, if there’s any left in the fridge, that is.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Just do it anyway


It’s the day after Christmas, and I’ve just about given up on my resolutions. No, I don’t mean for 2009 – those were long since abandoned – I mean for 2010.

I knew someone once who never made resolutions. He said they just led to failure. Of course, he started everyday with a Budweiser instead of Wheaties, so, perhaps, he was already there.

Regardless, I’ve about decided that mine – get up early, work-out consistently, stop procrastinating, get organized and walk the dog – are totally unattainable. Yet, I know people who do these things faithfully every day.

As I stumble out of bed and toss my kids their eggos, I see my neighbor sitting around the dining room table with her family feasting on bacon and eggs and omelets and homemade waffles. At least, in my mind, that’s what they are eating. At the very least, she's gotten up early enough to sit at the table.

As I sleepily drive the kids to school, I pass three women who walk five miles every day, whether it be drizzling rain, muggy heat or freezing cold. Did I mention they were all over 60, and one of them has had both hips replaced?

I have a friend who does the opposite of procrastinate. What’s that called? Oh, yeah, planning ahead. She works three months in advance. Me? My husband gave me a three-month calendar for Christmas, and I had to take it down because it made me dizzy. And, believe it or not, I didn’t even get around to making last year’s resolutions until July! (Click HERE to see what they were)

As far as organization, I have a friend who meticulously scrapbooks every moment of her kids’ lives, and - get this – actually enjoys it!

And, regarding the dog, my sister, who is much smaller than I, has two very large dogs that she manages to walk without them jerking her arm out of socket like my dog does – and I use a choke collar.

Though sometimes it feels hopeless, I’m not ready to give up making resolutions and drink Budweiser for breakfast. This year I’m going to make one resolution and one only – quit making excuses and just do it. (Feel free to insert your own bad Tiger Woods joke here, by the way.)

Happy (early) New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Overheard while shopping ...


Overheard while I was shopping last night …

“Mom, you are in that lady’s way.”

“No, I’m not. She’s helping me find a card.”

“Mom, this isn’t Hallmark. What kind of card are you looking for?”

“I want one that says, ‘To my granddaughter and her new husband on their first Christmas.’”

“Mom”

“What?”

“Nevermind”

***********

“How can you tell what size these are?” asked a man looking at pajamas.

“On the tag,” replied the woman next to him, an apparent stranger.

“But how can you tell what size fits what?”

“Well, I’m a small,” she said.

“Oh,” he said, quickly putting the pair back, “I think I need a medium or maybe a large.”

“Don’t buy her a large,” she said, looking him squarely in the eye. “Just save your receipt. If she needs to take it back, she can.”

Suddenly it hit him, “Ahhhh, medium it is.”

*******

“What is she – a toddler or a baby?”

******

“I don’t want to get them any junk. They will just tear it up and throw it away! Let’s get them a game table. They can’t throw that away.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Don't ever call me ma'am


There are certain mysteries that I will never understand: the meaning of life, quantum physics, and why it is that I’m unable to get my 11-year-old daughter to call me ma’am, but a 25-year-old woman will?

It happened last night at a Christmas party – a Christmas party, mind you. Women, you know what this means. I was bringing my A game – boots, new sweater, just-right jeans, big hair – I think the big hair might have been my undoing.

Anyway, I see a woman standing in the midst of a group of men (That should have been my first clue), but instead I think, “Poor girl. She doesn’t know anyone, and she is stuck over there talking to those guys.”

So, I walk over and introduce myself, and ask her some question which I’ve long since forgotten, and the woman, who is a foot taller than I am, looks at me and answers, “Yes ma’am.” Yes freaking ma’am. Sorry, losing my composure a little.

Now, in case you are wondering, it’s not the first time I’ve been called ma’am.(If you’d like to read about that painful experience, please click here). However, it’s the first time I’ve been called that by a woman I’m trying to socialize with at a Christmas party, a woman who is dating a neighbor of mine, a woman who should be my equal (or vice versa).

If I had been wearing a hideous Christmas sweater and polyester pants and had gray hair, then, okay, I would understand, but I had my black boots on, for heaven’s sake.

I felt like I had been slapped in the face.

“Ma’am? Why are you calling ME that?”

“That’s how I was raised. That’s what my parents taught me.”

“Yes, that’s wonderful. IF YOU WERE TALKING TO AN OLD PERSON!”

I was beginning to draw a crowd, so I stammered and stuttered my way on to the next polite question but not before I hissed in a threatening tone loud enough for only her to hear, placing emphasis on each word: “Don’t–ever-call–me–ma’am.”

We got along just fine after that.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bring on a new year


It’s almost the night before Christmas, and I say bring on the New Year. Am I a Scrooge? Quite possibly, yes.

I know it is Jesus birthday, and I do love Jesus, but can’t I celebrate it without the lights, the fanfare, the Visa bill? I mean, certainly his birth did not come with all the build up that Christmas comes with now.

And to make matters worse, almost every time I turn on the radio or enter a store I hear the lyrics, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year …” Oh, yeah? Then why is this line so long, and why do I feel so cranky, and why is it I’m so busy buying that I haven’t had any time to spend with my children?

Maybe I’m like Charlie Brown and manage to take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem.

Anyway, I long for a new year. I heard once Christmas is like the Olympics of motherhood. If that is the case, I’m not much of an athlete. My daughter made all of her own cookies, the choir director keeps nagging my son about returning the choir robe, I’ve just now mailed the Christmas cards, and I haven’t even delivered all of our Sally Foster wrapping paper. It’s just not my season.

But New Year’s? That I can do. I make the best turnip greens, just ask my daughter, and I can open the best can of black-eyed peas. And I can resolve to work-out, get up early, go to bed early, drink less, write more, pray more, run, you name it. Yes, New Year's I can do.

And if I don’t? Well, nobody’s disappointed. In fact, it’s expected. So, I say get a move on, Santa. Baby New Year is coming through.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Don't get dirty!


Raising a boy is a dirty job – a filthy job, actually, especially when you are the person washing his clothes. My son, whom I adore, has reached an all new level of grime.

So much so that I recently told him he would have to learn to do his own laundry. He had the exact look on his face that his dad gets when I tell him the same thing - the kind of too-scared-to-argue-with-a-crazed-woman look.

It all came to a head the night of his choral concert. He was supposed to wear a tux, which was fortunately provided by the school.

“All I need is a pistol, Mom, and I’ll be James Bond.”

I wonder if James Bond’s mom worried about him making it out the door without getting his crisp, white shirt dirty.

The night in question I was working in Atlanta, so I called my husband about an hour before I arrived home.

“Oh, he’s playing in the woods.”

“Make sure he comes home and gets cleaned up.”

“No problem,” he said. Women, you know what that means.

I came home to a sheepish-looking boy and an angry husband.

“He is not allowed to go up there for a week!”

I wanted to say, “Why are you punishing me?”

But, instead, I gave him the know-better-than-argue-with-a-dad-who-has-had-it look.

Apparently, my son had come home as called, gotten cleaned up, put on a new set of clothes and then asked to go back outside again. My husband told him not to come home dirty. To his credit, he didn’t; he came home filthy. At least he wasn’t wearing his tux.

Long story short, after a good scrubbing, some pushing and pulling, we managed to rope him into his penguin-suit. We weren’t allowed to walk him to his chorus room, so we dropped him off and prayed he wouldn’t fall into a puddle on the way.

“DON’T GET DIRTY!” my husband and I warned simultaneously as he clamored out of the truck.

The performance went off without a hitch. He sang his heart out despite the fact that his collar was choking him profusely. And, believe it or not, he stayed cleaned. His shirt was untucked, and there was poison ivy on his face from an earlier romp in the woods, but he was clean. And I even have a picture to prove it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

True love


My son thinks a girl at school likes him. How does he know? She asked him to marry him. He told her to wait until they are in college.

“There’s no way I’m doing that now,” he said. What a relief for his mom! Not to mention, he’s only in third grade and already thinking about college!

Last night, he announced again, “I think Sally likes me.”

“You do? What makes you think that?” I asked.

“When I dropped my pencil, she picked it up and kissed it over and over.”

“Well,” I said, a little taken aback. “She has very good taste. I don’t blame her for liking you.”

He beamed from ear to ear.

“So, what did you say to her after that?” I asked, practicing my role as future nosy mother-in-law.

“I told her she could keep it,” he said. “No way would I want it back after that.”

We, his dad, sister and me, laughed heartily while my son sat quietly.

“Dang! I shouldn’t have done that,” he said.

“Why?”

“I just remembered that was my lucky pencil.”

“What’s so lucky about it?” I asked. I’ve learned it pays to ask these questions.

“I found it on the playground and later I wrote a whole one-page essay with it," he said.

“Are you going to ask for it back?” his sister asked.

“No, I’ll let her keep it,” he said, his eyes shinning and his mouth fixed in a goofy grin.

Ah, true love ….

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why men need Girl's Night Out


It’s almost that time of the month. Oh, relax! I mean, GNO, short for Girl’s Night Out. Men, if you are, number one, still reading past the first sentence, and, number two, married and want to stay happily married, then embrace these evenings.

Women need to go out with the girls. If you happen to be the jealous type, trust me, they aren’t looking for other men. In fact, usually they are so exasperated with the one they have, they are oblivious even to Brad Pitt, for lack of a better example. Women just need to vent. No offense, but the harmless annoying stuff you do just builds up, and women must have an outlet for it. She’s going to vent, believe me. Far better she vent to her girlfriends about what you’ve done wrong the last few days, weeks, months, okay, years than to you.

So, if you wife says it’s time for GNO, do not reply by saying, “AGAIN?” because chances are, yes, it has been at least a month, and, yes, you’ve done enough that she deserves to go out AGAIN. I know there are exceptions to this. Somewhere out there is a perfect man who does laundry, cooks breakfasts, likes to read and never leaves the seat up, but chances are this mythological creature doesn’t belong to her, so GNO it is!

Another piece of advice for those men who are still reading (and God bless you if you are), don’t think by saying, “Well, I’m going to call Johnny and go to Hooters,” that you are somehow offending her ‘cause she is thinking, “Yeehaw! I don’t have to cook dinner that night!”

Do not ask me how I know this, by the way. I’m a Pisces. I’m intuitive.

Also if your wife goes out, do not comment about how expensive the restaurant is. Just don’t do it. So what if it is the nicest one in town? At least you don’t have to go with her and pay twice as much for something called creamed cauliflower (which I’ve heard is delicious).

In addition, do not lock the door if you go to bed before she gets home. She will not have her key; the spare is never where it should be, and one of you (more than likely both) is going to end up angry. And that means another GNO – soon.

Finally, make sure the kids are in bed when she gets home. No complaining, plus kids asleep, means a good night for you. If you’ve given them a bath, then make that a very good night.

You can thank me later.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The legend of the rooster


I woke up at 3 a.m. Saturday morning with a strong desire to strangle a rooster. Lest you think I’ve flown the coup (ha, ha, ha), I’d better start at the beginning.

It was Black Friday in the woods. You see, each year on the day after Thanksgiving, while others crowd the mall, my family and hundreds like us flee to one of Georgia’s state parks to either (a) escape from relatives (b) work off the extra dressing (c) get as far away from the stores as possible or (d) all of the above.

This year we chose Tallulah Gorge as our destination, with its cushy rubber path leading, or should I say misleading, us to a horrific descent of 1,000 steps to the bottom of the gorge. Word to the wise – when the park ranger asks if you’ve ever been down there before and then looks at you and shakes his head as to say another one bites the dust, don’t get offended and insist that he underestimated you and your family. And don’t tell him you aren’t afraid of crossing swift water on slippery rocks, like he said his wife was, because you are probably a lot younger than she. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t even think of bragging about what kind of shape you are in because he will see you slinking by the desk after your hike – sweaty, dirty and barely able to put one foot in front of the other. And he is not above telling you I told you so. Just take my word for it!

But back to the rooster story. We managed to drag ourselves out of the gorge without getting wet, a miracle if you know my son’s attraction to water.

“I’m so glad I didn’t fall in,” he said, in the truck on the way out of the park. “Mama said she was going to be mad at me if I did.”

“Which scares you more – falling in the freezing water and getting swept downstream over the waterfall or mama being mad at you?” my husband asked.

“Mama being mad! I could handle the other,” he said, without hesitation.

I smiled proudly. I must be doing an okay job then, I thought.

We were dry but hungry, so after a pit stop at a gift shop called Goats on the Roof, we began looking for food. And, yes, Goats on the Roof actually has goats on the roof. I can imagine how that marketing strategy came about … Say, Daryl, what if we built a gift shop and put goats on the roof? Yeah, Larry, that’s a great idea. We can use your goats. But what do we call it? … (No disrespect, it’s actually a very cool place.)

Long story short, we ended up eating at the Dillard House and taking the last room they had, which was fortunate because I’m sure Norman Bates was running the only other motel in the area with vacancies.

Since this was our first visit to the Dillard House, we couldn’t believe the quality and quantity of the food.

“This is food heaven,” said my son.

Not wanting to waste, plus famished from our day’s adventure, we ate and ate and ate – fried shrimp, country fried steak, fried catfish (Recognize a theme here?), French fries, BBQ chicken, creamed corn, slaw, relishes, salads, butter beans, green beans, one sweet casserole with coconut made from an unidentifiable vegetable, and a creamed cabbage dish that I was relieved I didn’t like. After our food frenzy, we waddled, I mean, walked to our cozy room, marveling again at our good fortune.

The room was warm, and our beds soft and full of pillows. Before we knew it, we were asleep, and I was having a wonderful dream about being at my grandmother’s house, when “Cock-a-doodle-do,” a rooster crows. Really Cock-a-doodle-do sounds pleasant compared to the loud squawking sound this creature was making. It was more like a “RACK-A-RACK-A-RAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCKKKK.” And it went on all night long with his friend joining him.

At about 3:30 a.m., I elbowed my snoring husband, “Do you hear that racket?”

“I do now,” he said.

He did not go out and kill the rooster as I suggested. He did eventually go out and throw a rock at it, however, and reported back that there were two, and they were nestled in a tree directly across from our room.

At about 4:30 a.m. I felt like I was undergoing some psychological torture. The minute I would start to doze off, they would crow again. Clearly, these creatures were mocking me. At about 5:30 a.m., my son woke up.

“Mom, do you hear that chicken?” he asked. “If I had a shot gun or bow and arrow, I would kill it!”

“No, son, I wouldn’t let you,” I said. “That punishment is too easy. I’d rather strangle it with my bare hands.”

Then my animal-loving daughter spoke up.

“Mom, poor roosters. They are just confused by the street lights, poor things.”

“Why do roosters crow at the sun, anyway?” I asked, thinking that the Bates Motel might have been preferable.

Speaking of the sun, it finally came up, and I walked out the door to confront my torturer and put an end to this once and for all. As I did, he and his friend, or, perhaps, his rival, flew right over my head. I guess they saw the crazed look in my eye. The kids thought it was the funniest thing ever.

In fact, instead of being grumpy from lack of sleep, we laughed and laughed as each of us took turns imitating the roosters’ crow. My son said mine sounded like Scooby-doo. We then went out and commiserated with the other sleepless hotel guests. I had just vowed to never return as long as roosters roamed the planet when my daughter made me promise to come back in the spring.

On the way home, I thought maybe one day when they are grown and at the table with their families, they’ll remember this trip fondly, and say to their children, “Did I ever tell you about the time your grandma wanted to strangle a rooster?”

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving wish list


After thirty some odd years of sitting at the kids' table for Thanksgiving, I have been promoted to head chef. It’s like going from janitor to CEO. I would use some kind of sports analogy here like minor to major league, but that’s best left to the sports-writing professionals.

Anyway, it’s on me. And I don’t care if it is just my mom and dad coming, that’s a lot of pressure. Of course, I volunteered for it and am excited about it. I decided I would keep it simple and make it a family affair: turkey cooked by the hubby, dressing by Aunt Pearle (found in the freezer section of Publix), corn by McKenzie’s (freezer section), green beans by Allen’s (found in big can) and rolls by Sister Schubert (We all know where to find her).

But, alas, my husband got involved.

For him, planning a Thanksgiving menu is like the kids making a wish list for Santa - lots of unrealistic items on it. His first one was giblet gravy. For starters, I’m not hundred percent certain what a giblet is much less how to make gravy from it. His second item? Homemade dressing. That I may be able to do, except he and I have a difference of opinion between what qualifies as dressing and what qualifies as stuffing – a major difference of opinion.

Then he requested broccoli casserole. I can’t really blame the man for this one. Ever since we got back from our honeymoon, he’s asked me to make it. I told him as soon as I found a good recipe. That was almost 14 years ago. Needless to say, it made the list. His next item was homemade rolls like my grandmamma used to make. Oh, how I miss her. It’s amazing how certain smells can bring her right back. Makes me wonder if one day my kids will catch a whiff of Little Caesar’s pizza and think, “Oh, reminds me of my mom …”

Back to the wish list …

“I found a good garlic mashed potatoes recipe,” said my helpful husband.

“I don’t think that will work with instant,” I said.

“Well, we can do real ones if you like,” he said. “If we are cooking, we are cooking.”

In case you are unclear, we equals me.

Today, he asked, albeit a bit tentative, “What kind of pies are you making?”

“I am BUYING pumpkin,” I replied.

“Well, what about pecan?” he ventured. “You know Mrs. So and So’s recipe from church. Can you call her to get it?”

Man, he was getting brave in his hunger.

Lest I seem like I’m picking on him, my kids have been every bit as bad. I looked at my list today and someone had added vinilla (sic) ice cream.

Today, as I left for the store, I asked “Does anyone want to go with me?”

Nope.

Then I came home and started cooking, “Does anyone want to help me?”

Nope.

If I weren’t so happy about doing it and so thankful that I am able to and so thrilled to have my parents over, especially my precious mom who has had two very rough years, I would feel a lot like the little red hen. As it is, I feel quite blessed. Not to mention, slightly hungry.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

All I want for Christmas is ... mind control?


My son wants Mindflex for Christmas. Have you heard of it? You put on the headset and use your powers of concentration to move the ball around the game console and through an obstacle course. Seriously, you raise and lower the ball by alternating concentrating and relaxing your mind.

What ever happened to checkers?

And how does this thing work? It’s by Mattel, so it must be safe. Right.

My son tried to tell me it was good for his brain. I told him so were math problems.

Fortunately, it’s a moot point – it cost $143, and I have a feeling after five minutes of concentrating and failing to move the ball through the hoops, they would soon grow bored.

My daughter wants a frog. They sell them at the toy store now for $19.95. She showed it to me as we were checking out.

“Oh, they are great,” said the saleslady. “You don’t have to do anything to them.”

“Not even feed them?” I asked.

“Oh, well, yes, you have to feed them,” she said, “but you don’t have to clean out their cage.”

Right.

After two guinea pigs and a rowdy puppy, I heard Santa put a moratorium on live animals in the sleigh. You can thank us for that.

It’s always a challenge to find the perfect gift - one that will make your children happy, but not make you broke. I’m sure my Christmas present dilemma is nothing new. When I was a child, I wanted a Cabbage Patch doll with all my heart. I knew someone who had four, and she pulled down their bloomers revealing Xavier Roberts signature to prove they were the real deal. At $100 a doll, I thought she had to be the richest girl in the world. The sad part is they were so valuable she wasn’t allowed to play with them. She had to leave them propped on her bed like trophies.

I’m sure my parents debated, but wisely they chose to buy me an imitation version of the doll. She was just as ugly as the real thing, and I loved her every bit as much until I outgrew her and left her by the wayside, which happened all too quickly.

Maybe I should follow their example and devise an imitation Mindflex. You know, make an aluminum headband and put some balls on the table. Let the kids concentrate until the balls move or they become blue in the face and grow bored with it. I may not be a mind-reader, but I can predict if I spent $143, I would end up with the exact same result.

As for the frog, maybe I can talk Santa into making some allowances on that one. He was awfully cute!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Music to my ears

Someone once asked me if I’d like to be a kid again. I said no, mainly because I sure would hate to go through those awkward teen years again. But, I do think it would be nice to see things as children do sometimes.

This morning, for example, my son was very excited because we were finally going to play the Christmas CD that he brought home from chorus. Since it was homework and the boy is so darn cute, I was willing to break my no Christmas songs before Thanksgiving rule.

“Okay, but we are going to listen to ‘You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch' first,” I said, ever the Scrooge.

“I’m not trying out for ‘Holy Night,’” he said, seriously.

“Why?” I asked, fully expecting him to tell me that he can’t sing. He’s cute, but, unfortunately, he sings like his mama.

To my surprise, he said, “Because I’d be tired by the time I finished singing it. That’s a long song. I’d be out of breath!”

I hugged him and told him to try out anyway. In fact, I even let him practice on the way to school at the top of his lungs. He hit the high notes, much like Alfalfa in The Little Rascals. I declared it beautiful and could tell by the proud look on his face, he agreed.

Oh, to be eight-years-old!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Carpooling to Cotillion



The best conversations happen in the backseat of carpool, especially carpool to Cotillion. I was never in Cotillion, but heaven knows, I could have used it, then and now. My husband outweighs me by 130ish lbs., and I still lead on the dance floor, when I’m not stepping on his feet, that is.

Therefore, I decided to do the right thing and enroll my daughter in it, so she can learn all the manners that she doesn’t get taught at home, including proper rising. There IS a correct way for a lady to get out of a chair, you know.

As homework, each Cotillion participant must get so many signatures saying they’ve practiced different elements of etiquette. One of them was paying compliments. I waited all day for mine. Would she say I was pretty? Sweet? Smart? Finally, it came.

“Mom, did I tell you that the tea you made is very good?”

That was better than expected. In the South, praising one’s sweet tea is the ultimate compliment.

“Now can you sign my book?” she said.

Giveth and taketh away, I thought, as I signed my name in the “Paying compliments” column.

She was still gathering signatures as I drove her and her friends to Cotillion.

“Be sure to watch me proper rise when I get out the car,” she said, “so you can sign off on it.”

I smiled to myself. We drive an Expedition. I couldn’t wait to see her proper rise out of that.

“I forgot my gloves,” said one of the girls hurrying back into the house to get them.

“Good thing you found them,” my daughter said. “I took mine off last time because they were bothering me, and I had to hold a boy’s hand, and it was sweaty.”

“You mean you touched a boy’s hand without a glove?!” asked her friend.

“Yes, ewww, it was gross,” she said.

At this point, I broke the chauffeur’s code and acknowledged I was listening to their conversation.

“Well, I hope you didn’t say anything,” I said, feeling sorry for the poor nervous fellow.

“No, but I made a facial expression to let him know!”

“I hope we don’t have to close dance,” said another friend.

Again, I, being a mom, could not resist.

“Why, because of the sweat?”

“Mom, you know why …. Awkward!”

After a few giggles, the girls debated what kind of punch is served and whether or not they would try any tonight. Soon, we reached our destination.

“Have fun, wear your gloves, and don’t forget to proper rise on the way out,” I said, amidst their laughter.

I drove home in silence, regretting that the drive there had been such a short one. I’m so glad that, despite my busy schedule, I had volunteered to drive carpool that night. Having an opportunity to have a candid talk about boys is very rare. And I must admit that the thought of my little girl growing up made my owns palms a bit sweaty.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Leigh in Wonderland


I’m late! I’m late for a very important date! No time to say hello. Goodbye! I’m late; I’m late; I’m late! – White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland

I have no idea what Lewis Carroll’s character is supposed to represent, but it reminds me the Christmas season, which apparently now last from the day after Halloween through New Year’s.

Here we are five days into November – the stores are decorated, Christmas commercials are on television, my children are making their lists, parties are being planned and Leigh is feeling as frantic as the White Rabbit. It’s enough to make me want to pitch my pumpkins off the porch.

When I was growing up, we put our tree up the week before Christmas albeit this was more as a practicality since our wood burning stove would quickly turn it to kindling. We sang carols on Christmas morning and made (and ate) fudge all month long. Now, that’s the way to do it.

Now days it’s a frantic rush, which is such a shame. Thanksgiving, an awesome holiday – no gifts, no rushing around, just food, family and friends, and, oh, yeah, remembering what we are thankful for – gets totally overlooked.

I have already heard people say remember the reason for the season, and I will. I promise, just as soon as it gets here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Take a trip with Brown's Guide to Georgia


My mama is going to be so proud! I made Brown’s Guide to Georgia!

You may have read the popular Georgia travel and recreation magazine founded in 1972, but, growing up, my family lived it. Each summer we marked off scenic places in our Brown’s Guide, most of which had an historical significance, ignored the restaurant recommendations in lieu of Mom’s peanut butter and jelly and a Coca-Cola, and hit the road in our Pontiac, the hot air blowing in our faces.

Road trips have come a long way since then - air conditioning, fast food restaurants, seat belts, DVD players – and so has Brown’s Guide. The magazine is now entirely online, offering an incredible resource for natives and visitors. Instead of 150 restaurant reviews per print issue, Brown’s Guide online now has 800 in Atlanta alone. Want to know where to hike, bike, canoe, shop, eat and sleep in our fair state? Check out Brown’s Guide’s 7,000 listings at their Web site http://brownsguides.com/

In addition, the site contains videos, galleries and blogs, ranging in topics from restaurants to family vacations to Georgia state parks to a young boy’s dilemma over whether he should become president or manager of Dunkin’ Donuts. By the way, the last one’s mine. Hope you and my mama will check it out! (Click here to go directly to my post on Brown's Guide)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oops, I did it again.


Oops, I did it again. Last time I heard those words I was with my (then) 13-year-old daughter surrounded by screaming teenaged girls as I watched Britney lip sync with a snake around her neck. Who knew I would miss THAT?

Today, I would have been delighted to have been back there (with earplugs) or anywhere else for that matter, because, yes, oops, I did it again. I hit another car in the parking lot. And that scrapping, scrunching metallic sound is far worse than the squealing, ear-piercing screams of teenaged girls. Because that sound means two things: $$$$$ and the call.

What call you say? The call I blogged about this past June when I had my last fender-bender in our church parking lot. Click here to read how that went down.

So, I found myself today making the call again – the “Honey, I wrecked the car in a parking lot” call - except this time, being at work, I had an advantage, I could send an e-mail, which is exactly what I did. And he ignored it until I made - you guessed it - the call.

I fretted all day about the incident, particularly the fact that I didn’t know whose car I hit. I had left a feeble, “I’m sorry!” and my phone number under the car’s windshield. But, I couldn’t help but worry, who did I hit? How would that person take it when he left the office after a hard day’s work only to find the front bumper of his car a crumbled mess? What if it were someone I had to see often like the couple I hit at church? What if they flew into a rage and cussed me out?

After a long day of imagining every possible scenario, I decided it was time to return to the scene. I rode the elevator up with several employees, each getting off at floors along the way, all except one, that is. As we reached the top level of the parking deck, I could stand it no longer.

“What kind of car do you drive?” I asked.

“Uh, Monte Carlo.”

“Okay, have a good day then.”

He looked perplexed and walked off as I saw my victim on her cell phone in a heated discussion, with a security guard and police officer standing nearby.

Oh, boy, I’m in trouble, I thought.

“I did it,” I told her. “I’m sorry.”

She waved me off with her hand, “Oh, I’m not worried about this. This is nothing; nobody was hurt; nobody was killed. I hope you didn’t think I was mad because of this. This could have easily been me hitting your car when I drive my husband’s truck. I’m closing on a house and that’s who I was talking to on the phone.”

And then the woman whose car I had crashed hugged my neck, as I blinked back tears, leaving me to think that sometimes we need to have a few fender-benders to be reminded that there are good people in the world. Perhaps, sometime, someone will hit me in a parking lot, and I will remember this day and be equally gracious. Of course, if they do, they’ll have to pay to replace my bicycle.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Time to make the donuts


"Just six more years, and I can be president,” said my son from the back seat of the truck as we drove to dinner.

“I think you have to be at least 36,” said my husband.

“35, and you have to be a U.S. Citizen and have lived in this country for 14 years,” he said. “In six more years, I’ll be 14.”

Then he looks at his older sister, “Were YOU born in this country? How long have YOU lived here?”

“No, I was born in Italy. What do you think?”

“You were both born and raised right here in this town,” I said, trying to end the argument. “Either one of you can qualify.”

But, secretly, I was proud. My son wanted to be president, without my even suggesting it. Of course, I had always dreamed one of them would. The minute after they were born, and I realized they were healthy, I began to dream for them and dream big.

“I bet he makes a lot of money,” my daughter said.

“Well, not as much as you think,” I said, never wanting my children to pursue a career based solely on money.

“Yeah, he doesn’t make money,” said my son. “People just give him money!”

“Presidents also get lots of perks,” said my husband, “cooks, cars, airplanes …”

“And a big, white house!” my daughter added.

“I’m going to be president one day,” said my son, emphatically.

At this point, I was bursting with pride. I’ve always wanted my children to become the best they can be, to reach their full potential, and president - even though if I think about it would be horrible job - is the epitome of that. He wouldn’t be the first from a small Georgia town, either, and I told him so, as I turned and faced him in the back seat.

“What you need to do first is join the school council,” I said, as he nodded, seriously. “Then you need to become mayor, then state representative, and then you go to Washington to become a …”

“Ooh! Or I could work at Dunkin’ Donuts,” he exclaimed as we past the store. “I could eat all the leftovers and bring home fresh donuts every night, cream filled with chocolate, donut holes, sprinkles with chocolate, and they pay you money, too. Yum … I love the chocolate ones.”

“So, you are either going to president or work at Dunkin’ Donuts,” said his sister, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Yes, that’s right,” he said. “That’s okay, isn’t it, Mom?”

I didn’t even have to think about it because I knew the answer – I would be equally proud of either job because, ultimately, I just want my children to be healthy and happy and productive members of society. And, after all, someone’s gotta make the donuts.






Thursday, October 15, 2009

Women are crazy


As I was styling my hair the other morning, I thought of some of the crazy things only women do. When I say styling, I mean shampooing, conditioning, applying hair cream, root lifter (don’t ask), brushing with two to three different brushes, drying, straightening, curling, spraying and then finally giving up and reaching for a ponytail holder. It was at that point that I spotted my little blonde curly clip-on hair piece, and I couldn’t help but think, Women are crazy!

I would occasionally wear the faux hair piece whenever I was having a bad hair day or feeling just plain lazy. My teenaged daughter had one that she wore, too, until it fell off her head one day, and her brother stomped it thinking it was some type of creature. I wore mine to church one Sunday, and one of the parishioners went on and on about how great my hair looked. I said thank you but felt a little like a fraud in the Lord’s house and haven’t worn it since, although if hair pieces kept one from being holy, we’d have a lot fewer preachers.

So, without further adieu, here are few insane things only we females seem to do (feel free to add your own):

Pass off store-bought food as our own – I admittedly used to do this every tennis match with Publix pound cake. I would slice it and serve it on a crystal platter, smiling sweetly in reply to the compliments it received. Thankfully, no one asked me for my recipe. Just curious, has a man ever fretted about serving store-bought food to company?

Wear clothing designed to torture our bodies from high heel shoes, to jeans we can’t exhale in, to bras that defy gravity by squeezing and pushing, to Spanx, the modern-day girdle. You don’t catch men doing this. At least, I hope not!

Fret over thank you notes not written. I know every person I neglected to send a thank you note to throughout my entire life - everyone who gave me a wedding gift as we had too much libation and rashly opened the gifts without saving the tags, a friend who bought me a casserole after my son was born, and the moms who threw the end-of-the-year kindergarten party.

Moms also fret over whether or not their kids have sent thank you notes, no matter how old they are. In fact, my mom usually buys me a stack each Christmas as a gentle reminder. Btw, if you are reading this blog and haven’t received yours from me or one of my family members and are wondering whether we really appreciate what you did for us, particularly when my mom was sick, the answer is yes, and thank you so much.

Protect her child ferociously, especially if that child is a boy. Daddies look after their girls, and mamas protect their baby boys, even if his daddy says, “Leave the boy alone. He needs to toughen up.”

I once saw an ordinary-looking mother run out of McDonald’s at a breakneck speed and leap a four feet fence on top of a three foot wall in order to prevent a big kid from throwing balls at her younger one on the playground.

I myself am guilty of protective bouts, especially when it comes to bullies. Just the other day, my son came home dirty and frustrated. An older boy kept tackling him, not allowing him to leave the yard. I’ve been telling him to ignore him for months, years, even, until finally I could take no more.

“Just punch him one good time, and he will leave you alone,” I said, hoping Jesus was listening to his iPod, instead of shaking his head at my advice.

“In the face?” he asked, looking excited.

Now, as tired as I was of seeing my son hurt, I could not, in good faith, tell him to hit another woman’s son in the face. But the belly? Now that’s a different story, and I told him so. He grew unusually quiet.

“I can’t hit him, Mom.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“’Cause then he’d just hit me back. It’s better to just ignore him.”

And that was when I realized we girls might be crazy, but there is method to our madness.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What's for dinner?

When I was growing up, my daddy would get home at 5 o’clock, wash his hands and immediately sit down at the dinner table where my sister and I would be waiting. Mama would then hand him the paper and pour him a glass of tea. We would say the blessing and then we would eat. Every night. Same time. All four of us. Together. At the table. What a miracle!

As a result, I make every effort for my family to eat together, although lately it’s been a lot harder. I’ve been working more and haven’t quite gotten the hang of having meals prepared ahead of time or even thawed out, for that matter. I feel so accomplished for getting the kids off to school having eaten some semblance of breakfast that I totally forget about dinner. Until my ride home from work, that is, when I am stuck in traffic and absolutely starving. And, trust me; you wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.

“Why don’t you carry a granola bar in your purse?” my frustrated husband will say when I’m getting edgy because I haven’t eaten, and there is nothing gluten-free around. Actually, he puts it a little stronger than that, but I’ve cleaned it up for this blog.

Anyway, last night I wondered the same exact thing as I ransacked the glove compartment looking for something edible the kids left behind. It was then I learned a valuable lesson. If kids leave it behind, it is NOT edible.

Hamburgers? No, had that Monday. Hot dogs? Those are cancer sticks! Pizza? We have a left-over one in the fridge; make that two, one is from the week before. Pork chops? Yes, that’s it! I thought as I navigated Atlanta traffic.

So, I called my husband who was at football practice with the kids, and proudly announced, “We are having pork chops!”

“With mashed potatoes and gravy?”

Sigh. “Sure.”

(Fortunately, he was raised on instant and doesn’t know any better. Thanks, Mom-in-law!)

I could almost taste those chops when I realized it was growing increasingly late, and those were rather large pieces, and I really don’t think they are thawed out. In fact, they may still be in the freezer.

Rotisserie chicken! Healthy, tastes good, I can buy some potato salad to go with it. So, I called the hubby again.

“How about rotisserie chicken?” I said, shattering his visions of gravy bowls.

“You didn’t pack your granola bar, did you?”

Once in town, I stopped by my new friendly neighborhood grocery store, their slogan, not mine. I put a few things in my buggy, feeling pleased with myself because now I can do a little grocery shopping, too, as I looked all over the deli department – no chicken.

“Excuse me, but where are your rotisserie chickens?” I asked an employee, feeling anxious.

He pointed to an empty rack with a sign that read, “Rotisserie chicken, guaranteed from 4-7 or tomorrow’s is free.”

“But it’s empty,” I whined.

“Looks like we’re out,” he said and shouted for a woman in the back three or four times – loudly.
“What do ya want?” she barked, pushing her mop over the floor.

“Do you have any more rotisserie chicken, please?”

“All gone!” she yelled. Apparently she had not packed a granola bar, either.

“But this was going to be my dinner,” I said, looking at the man, who apparently had no control over the deli lady. Her look shot both of us down.

“Can I get my free one tomorrow?” I asked, getting my hopes up that I won’t have to spend another evening scrounging for food.

“Nope, that offer ends at 7.”

“What time is it?” I asked.

“7:05”

“AW, COME ON!” I shouted and pushed my buggy out of the way.

I’d like to say this was the first fit I’ve had in a grocery, but it was not. I had one once before in the self-checkout line that involved a baby, a toddler, a teen, a head of lettuce, and a dozen witnesses.

I know what I can make, I think, as I walk out the door and drive home quickly, so I can get it on the table before the gang arrives.

“Breakfast for dinner,” I said to my husband on the cell phone after he called. (Don’t you love cell phones? That’s sarcasm).

“We’re out of milk,” he said.

“Well, I’m not allowed back in the grocery store. You’ll have to stop on YOUR way home.”

And that is just what he did. It may have been 8 p.m., instead of 8 a.m., it may have been milk and juice instead of sweet tea, we may have been eating off paper plates, our blessing may have been sung to the tune of Superman, and I may be half-crazy, but at least we were all eating together.

Amen and pass the butter!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The greatest game ever played

Saturday I get to watch the greatest game ever played in recreation league football. And trust me, I’ll be watching - every play, every tackle, every touchdown, every field goal. Do eight-year-olds get to kick field goals?

I’m going to learn a lot about the sport this weekend. I’ve always enjoyed football – dressing up for the games, planning the tailgate menu, inviting friends over on game day to gather in front of the big screen TV – I just don’t care much for watching it. In fact, I wrote a blog about my feelings on the subject here.

But this year, things are different. My boy is out there for the first time. He has worked so hard. The first time he practiced with pads he refused to take a shower until I got home because he wanted me to see, feel and smell (Well, that one came with the first two) how sweaty he was.

“Sometimes, you just have to eat dirt, mama,” he said, profoundly, one night as I tucked him into bed after practice.

The other day he came home and announced excitedly, “I’m going to be a full back - F-U-L-L back.”

“F-U-L-L back as opposed to?” I asked, confused.

“F-U-L-L back, not F-O-O-L back,” he said, seriously.

“Oh, baby, I’m so proud,” I said, as I wondered, Which poor kid got chosen to be the fool back?

His coach, an old timer with lots of experience, encourages the boys, including his grandson, to do well on and off the field. My son takes that very seriously, too, which makes me ever prouder. He’s gotten the prize for best effort at practice twice, and his teachers praise his work ethic and character often.

God, I love football! As long as he doesn't get hurt, that is.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Free range kids


I read an article about a journalist, Lenore Skenazy, who says we overprotect our kids today. Seems the mom let her nine-year-old son ride the subway in New York – alone - earning her the title of “America’s worst mom.”

My first thought was, “Whew, Glad that one is taken!” My second was, “I guess that puts a damper on play dates at her house.”

Her book is called Free Range Kids, and you can read her defense of her behavior here. Now, I haven’t read her book, and I’d never lived anywhere near a subway, or even a bus stop, for that matter, so I can’t fully weigh in on the topic. However, from my Southern smothering mom point of view, it sounds horrible! I sure wouldn’t want to ride the subway alone.

Yet, I do know that when I was growing up, we (my sister, neighbors and I) spent hours roaming the woods – alone - behind our house, sidestepping copperheads, balancing fallen trees over ravines, and marveling firsthand at how much damage beavers can do at the creek/swamp. Oh, not to mention discovering the remnants of a moonshine still near an old shack that was still, apparently, used for gambling.

During the summer, we’d shed our shoes and leave the house first thing in the morning, go into the woods where it was cool, poke under moss, climb trees, make huts, you know, just be kids. My mama didn’t worry about me. She knew I’d be home by dinner. There were only two times I wasn’t, and both times something was wrong. Once I was stuck in a pipe propped up by a fence (Please don’t ask) and another I was trapped in a tree house by a large barking dog. Both times I escaped.

Am I saying parents should allow their kids to wander today? No, I’m afraid that, despite Skenazy’s argument, the world IS a different place. Yet, there is something about giving kids blocks of unscheduled time, time to be free, time to explore, time to learn things on their own that, ultimately, makes them become better and more self-reliant. At least until the dinner bell rings.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Shopping with myself


My daughter has gone to college, and I can no longer dress myself. I never thought I would miss hearing her say, “Mom, you aren’t really going to wear that, are you?” or “Mom, that looks stupid on you,” but, after a day of shopping by myself, I do.

I’ve always felt comfortable with my taste and ability to put together a shirt, pants and shoes. I mean, how hard is that? Now that my daughter has gone; however, I realize just how much I depended on her for guidance.

Case in point, I went shopping over the weekend and tried on jeans. Fatal error. In fact, I don’t think any woman can buy jeans by herself. This dawned on me as I asked two complete strangers outside the dressing room if my pants looked too long.

“Oh, no, I think they are a good length,” the young women insisted, as I debated whether I should turn around and ask them if the jeans made my butt looked big. (It’s a cliché for a reason, ladies, don’t deny it.).

Perhaps anticipating my question, they quickly excused themselves, which left me with no one to ask but the saleslady. And that is a problem because her job is to sell me clothing, not be honest with me. She could tell me a burlap sack looked fabulous on me, and I would buy it. In fact, I think I did. (Sweater dress, burlap sack, not a lot difference there).

The other problem with blue jean shopping is there are dozens of different kinds of jeans out there – skinny, super skinny, boot cut, straight leg, flare leg, slightly flare leg. I learned, without the help of the salesgirl, that despite their name, skinny jeans don’t make you look skinny. They reminded me of the jeans I used to wear in the early 80’s, the ones that were so tight they needed a zipper at the ankle, so my foot would fit in them, the ones I had to lie on the bed and quit breathing in order to pull up.

“Are these still in?” I asked the salesgirl, holding up a pair.

“Yes,” she looked at me like, Why would be selling them, duh?

“Well, what shoes do you wear with them?” I asked.

“Oh, heels would look good with those,”

I hung the jeans back up. Skinny jeans and heels, uh huh. I can just see me walking into the next PTA meeting with THAT on.

The pair I ended up buying were low cut, petite, straight flare leg, Artist-style, in case you are interested. Actually, I bought a pair in two different sizes because I have no idea which size fits better. I’m not sure how I’m going to tell when I get them home, either, but, perhaps, I’ll just know. Or even better, maybe my daughter will pay me a visit and tell me how stupid they look - that would be music to my ears.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Leigh Knight's high school reunion


What is it about the mere mention of a high school reunion that brings back every ounce of teenage angst?

I learned of my, choke, 20-year reunion, oh, six months ago. Immediately, I thought I have to finish my book, have perfect kids, run a marathon, and get killer abs – in short, become either Sarah Palin or Kelly Ripa - before I can face those people I haven’t seen in 20 years and will probably never see again (except in the pretend world of facebook)!

Where is the logic behind that?

I don’t know, but the sense of urgency is there. I guess it stems, in part, from the fact that at my last reunion – the ten year - I was told that I was “not all that.” Actually, I was told, “Leigh Knight, you are not all that!” as my ex-classmate turned on her heels, leaving me with my mouth hanging open.

An awkward silence followed.

I looked incredulously at those around me – my husband who didn’t know a soul yet ended up in every photo, the cute boy from history class whose name I still didn’t know, and a couple of nerdy guys who made more money than I could ever dream of.

“Did she just say that I wasn’t ALL THAT?” my voice rising.

“Yeah, I think she just did,” said the cute boy.

“Oh. My. God!” I said, reverting back to high school.

Later, I went home, told my children, and we had a good laugh about it.

My daughter even gave me a birthday card once that I treasure that read, “Mom, you ARE all that!”

But, here we are, ten years later, and I still wonder about that girl. Had she waited ten years to tell me that, and WHY? I barely remembered her. In fact, I don’t think I ever talked to her. Did I used to act like I was “all that”? And what the heck does that mean anyway?

So, now I’m a week out from my high school reunion. I’m 5,000 words into my book, I plan to start running Monday, my children are, well, children, and I’m not even going to talk about my abs or lack thereof. So, am I all that? Despite my shortcomings, I think, yes, I am. And that is exactly what I’m going to tell my classmate if she says anything. It took me ten years to come up with that come-back, but the good part is now I’ve grown up enough to truly believe it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Confessions of a tennis mom


My daughter’s played a lot of sports through the years, and I’ve enjoyed passively watching them, not concerned about the score, just making sure she is having fun, and it’s not my week to bring snacks.

I made fun of the coaches who rushed to recruit her for their softball teams after she made a double play by catching the ball in the air and then tagging the base - at the age of five. Apparently, had she known she could have made a triple play. I’ve never seen grown men more excited. And who knew Little League coaches have business cards?

I’ve laughed at soccer moms (Why doesn’t anyone use the term “Soccer Dad?”) who run along the side lines with their child, shouting “encouragement.” When my daughter was eight, she had a teammate who received $20 for every goal. Does that make her a pro, and will it ruin her chance of going to the Olympics? Just curious.

Then there was gymnastics.

“She’s going to be too tall to be a gymnast,” my husband said, when he heard I enrolled her.

“She’s six years old,” I reminded him. “She likes to do cartwheels and flips and get a stamp on her hand after class.”

Sometimes, we, as parents, get way ahead of ourselves when it comes to our kids and sports. And, now, on the cusp of Georgia-girl Melanie Oudin’s outstanding performance in the U.S. Open, my daughter is playing tennis.- my sport. The sport I’ve played for 15 years in order to become mediocre; the sport I wished I would have started when I was her age; the sport in which she naturally excels. And, suddenly, I don’t just want her to have fun and develop skills that she can use for a lifetime - I want her to win.

Of course, I would never dare let on. Truthfully, I am thankful that she is a healthy child and can play. Yet, there’s a part of me - the part that was always picked last for Red Rover, the part that didn’t make the basketball team, the part that always got tagged out at first, the part that failed the broad jump, the part that couldn’t climb the rope to the top in the gym – that really, really wants her to kick butt!

But, if not, I will hug her and be just as happy because either way I am proud. I know what it is like to lose; I know what it is like to cheer for three seasons for a team that never won a game; I know what it is like to try and fail and vow to work harder, and, ultimately, that is not a bad thing. It shapes who you are, the person you become. Not to mention, it makes the wins in life that much sweeter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A word to the wise


It took 19 years, but I finally said it – the words my mama once said to me: “One day you are going to have children of your own and then you will understand what I am talking about.”

And you will be sorry for the way you are acting today is the implied rest of the sentence.

Believe me, if you are a parent and haven’t uttered those words yet, you will, and when you do, you will have the most profound sense of déjà vu.

And you will think, “Now I know what my mama meant!”

And then an epiphany will hit, and you will frown and think, “Oh, my poor mama! She was right, and, boy, was I ever wrong!”

And then your teenager will look at you like you are stupid and say, “What are you talking about?”

And you will smile and nod, knowingly, because suddenly you get it. You have become the wise one. Now all you have to do is wait 19 years until she faces her daughter and hears those very words – words passed down through generations – come out of her own mouth.

And when they do, she will do exactly what you did today, and that is to shed some tears and then call your mama to tell her you are sorry.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bring or buy? Cash or check?


“Have my lunch money, Mom?” my son asked.

I used to ask him every day if he wanted to bring or buy, until finally he said, “Mom, I am going to buy my lunch every day. I am not going to break my record!”

“You do know they don’t give out an award for that, don’t you?” I asked.

But, for a growing kid, piles of meat loaf, mashed potatoes, beefy tacos, French fries and a carton of milk is award enough.

I don’t mind. It bulks him up for football and keeps me from worrying about whether I should cut his sandwich straight across or diagonally.

So, I go to my checkbook to pay for the cheapest lunch in town and notice it’s the last one. No problem. I’ll just call and order some more. Should be easy enough, right?

I call and get the automated voice, make that, the automated, friendly-man voice. I can say or punch in my vital information. Believe me, with my Southern accent punching it in is the only way to go.

I dutifully follow his directions while he says nice things to me like, “You’re doing great!” “We value you as a customer,” and, my favorite, “We’re almost done!”

Then the voice grows quiet.

“Uh oh” he says, his friendly voice sounding concerned.

Well, this can’t be good, I thought.

“It looks like you need to speak with a customer representative,” he said solemnly.

The phone is quiet for a minute, and I picture the automated robot man getting up and looking for someone who could help me.

Then he’s back, chipper as ever, “It looks like there is no one here at the moment! Say or press two for the office hours of our representatives.”

I hung up on him.

I guess it didn’t hurt his feelings because I called back later, and we went through the whole process, and he didn’t sound like he held it against me.

“Okay,” he said, “let me transfer you.”

More like it, I thought.

“Hello,” said a friendly-sounding female. “Can you please say or press in your account information?”

It took a few seconds before it dawned on me that she too was automated. I went through the same drill with her while thinking, “Do I really even need checks?”

Eventually, I was transferred to a live person, and I went through the drill for the third time. This is for security purposes, I was told. Okaaaay … Perhaps the logic being a thief would have let it go after the first phone call because it was such a hassle.

My frustration level was high when the representative said, “I see you ordered two boxes last time.”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“So, why not order four or five boxes this time?”

Long story short, my son’s getting used to his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cut diagonally. He might miss his hearty school lunches, but I will never miss that bank.



Wednesday, September 2, 2009

All I need to know I learned in VBS ...


I missed a lot of Sunday school growing up. In fact, I missed every Sunday for 18 years with the exception of a few Vacation Bible Schools in which I have fond memories of eating flower-shaped butter cookies off of my fingers before washing them down with red Kool-aid.

As a result, now that I am an adult, I have tried off and on to make up for my lack of religious training. Currently, I’m off but have signed up to teach children’s Sunday school class next month, so, perhaps, I can pass along my knowledge of how to make rings out of little butter cookies. Do they still sell those? (Never mind, I digress.)

I have attended many different Bible studies through the years in an attempt to lose my ineptitude when it comes to the Holy Word. I remember one in particular. The leader was (and is) a very sage woman in our church. She taught Sunday school, had been moderator of the women’s circle and was a veritable expert on all things, biblical or otherwise. And to top it off, she knew how to throw a ladies’ luncheon!

As I entered her house the first time for one such event, I realized if cleanliness is close to Godliness, then I could truly learn a lot from her. She was such a charismatic leader and great cook that her guests actually waited in line for second helpings of her “junk salad,” a green congealed mess that looked like its name but tasted strangely delicious.

Full from an incredible meal, we all gathered onto her sun porch for what was sure to be the most enlightening lesson of our lives. We said a prayer, and our leader began our lesson, and some how the topic of “What we would say to God if we could ask him anything” came up.

Some women suggested we ask why there is evil in the world; others were curious as to why good people have to suffer; some wanted to know what they could do to grant the world peace. Finally, our leader cleared her throat.

“Ah have a question Ah can’t wait to ask Gawd,” she said in her slow, strong Southern drawl.

We leaned forward, straining our ears to hear, our hearts open in anticipation.

“Ah want to know how in the WORLD did he expect men and women to live together? Ah mean really!”

We laughed, but the lesson stuck with me. So, even though I occasionally take breaks from church, and I don’t always do as I should, I hope I can pull it together before I die. I’d really like to hear His answer!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Boiled peanuts - a pound of prevention



My doctor prescribed boiled peanuts for my headaches. Well, practically …

It all started during a recent office visit. The doctor took my pulse, and asked, “Are you a runner?”

“Not unless someone is chasing me,” I replied (See my blog post “Not quite born to run" for further proof).

“Hmm ... let me take it again,” he said, at which point I knew I was dying.

I tried to breathe normally as he held my wrist, but my life flashed before my eyes. What would it be? Brain tumor? Cancer? Some mutated swine flu syndrome?

Finally, he looked up at me and gave me the news: “You have a very low pulse.”

“Yes, doctor,” I said. “And …”

“You didn’t hear this from me, but you could probably benefit from a little salt and caffeine in your diet.”

Well, needless to say, he didn’t have to tell me twice.

I immediately cut out decaf tea and switched to leaded (so much better in the morning), yet I couldn’t bring myself to knowingly add salt into my diet. But as fate would have it, that was the weekend we discovered Peanut Point.

We were spending another weekend at my parents’ lake house as part of our staycation (which is another word for “Broke”). But, hey, a lake house, I’m not complaining!

We were cruising in the family pontoon boat when we happened upon a small island. Upon that island was a little white shack and surrounding that shack looked like the biggest family reunion I have ever seen – old folks, young folks, middle-aged and lots of youngsters, all swimming, eating and enjoying lake life.

And in the midst of it all were several huge pots of boiled peanuts with a hand-painted sign above it that read, “Peanut Point - $2 a bag.” Tired and hungry, we pulled our boat up to the sandy beach. A bikini-clad grandma scooped out two bags of hot, messy peanuts - one Cajun, one regular, both extra salty – just what the doctor ordered.

Apparently, my body did need salt because we went back to the lake every weekend expressly for the peanuts. The last weekend we were there we bought eight bags. Any leftovers, I’d bring home and eat cold.

And on one of the relaxing boat rides out to Peanut Point, it dawned on me that my head didn’t hurt. Whether it was the stress-free lifestyle or the peanuts, who’s to say. Now that summer is drawing to a close, and we haven’t been able to make it to the lake, my headaches have returned, even on the weekends. I went back to the doctor and got an armload of pills, but just in case, I think I will try to make some boiled peanuts first. You never know.

(By the way, my friend and fellow blogger Kathy Bohannon prompted this blog with her post about her brother’s recipe. Check it out here.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Margaritaville


Each year my husband I buy tickets to a nearby amphitheater’s summer concert series for our anniversary. We used to go see Jimmy Buffett until we discovered that we could see six concerts for the price of his one, plus we weren’t as likely to wake up with a case of what my daughter called, “the Buffett flu.”

The downside is it’s a mixed bag, and I’ve learned over the past three years, you never know which performers will surprise you. Kenny Loggins? Great! Huey Lewis? Dud. Foreigner? Awesome! Kansas? Zzzzzz …

Actually, I’ve been thinking that if my freelance career starts to slack off, I can follow aging rockers (make that performers) around the country and write reviews on them. Trust me, people do this – well, the following them around the country part – just ask Kenny Rogers. We saw him last year, and he was fantastic! He had fans, women of various ages, who had seen hundreds of his concerts and still laughed at all of his corny jokes. Now that says it all.

This weekend’s concert was Peter Cetera. Despite his many hit songs, I’m not sure if Peter has such a following. No offense, but he is no Kenny or Jimmy, for that matter. Peter seemed a little put out by us all, especially during the encore.

“You people in the middle row, if you don’t want to clap, we will march right back off this stage without doing an encore,” said Cetera to the confused crowd.

Pointing his finger, he continued, “You should be ashamed of yourself; people around them, make them feel ashamed of themselves!”

I waited for him to stamp his foot and fold his arms across his chest like a two-year-old. Definitely not the proudest moment for this Academy award winner, I’m sure. As far as vocals, he sounded great. But is that what it is all about?

Perhaps he shouldn’t take himself so seriously. Perhaps we all shouldn't. Sometimes we need to don our little grass skirts and coconut bras and sing Margaritaville . . . even the non-clapping folks in the middle row.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

See you on facebook (or not)

As the early 80s song says, “Video killed the radio star.” Today’s new hit should be “Facebook killed polite small talk.”

Sure, it’s a great way to keep in touch. It just works a little too well.

I ran into a mother from my kid’s school and began to make the small chit-chat that women are famous for.

“What’s been going on with you?” she asked.

“Well, my son starts foot…”

“I know. I read that on facebook,” she said, stopping me mid-sentence.

“Oh, okay,” I said, a little startled. “Well, this weekend my husband and I went to see…”

“Hippiefest,” she finished for me. “Saw that, too.”

“I would take a picture of our girls, but I lost my …”

“Camera, yeah, I know.”

The subject of camping came up.

Relieved, I said, “Did I ever tell you about my last camping trip when my friend put a snake in my sleeping bag?”

“Facebook,” she said, without so much as a chuckle.

I was tempted to tell her to try reading my blog on the prank (posted here) as it was a lot funnier than my status update, but instead I asked, "So, why don’t you tell me what’s new with you?”

“Well, I’m getting my master’s degree,” she said, to which I did not mention that I had already read what the degree was in, when and where her classes were, how she didn’t know if she could juggle it, how she was having doubts, and the result of her first test - all on facebook.

Instead, I listened, nodded, asked questions and wished her well. No need in both of us being rude.

“See you on facebook,” she said, as she left.

Maybe not anymore, I thought.



Monday, August 17, 2009

One toke over the line

In honor of (not memory of, mine you) Woodstock's 40th anniversary, my husband and I went to see Hippiefest, a collection of rockers from the 60's. In addition to hearing a lot of Viagra jokes (Chuck Negron formerly of Three Dog Night is 67 years old with an eight-year-old child; I suppose there is a bit of truth in that humor.), we learned a few things.

For example, Mitch Ryder of the Detroit Wheels' song, "Sock it to me, baby!" was once banned from the radio for explicit lyrics. And George Harrison of the Beatles once told Joey Molland of Badfinger (Well, actually, I'm not sure who in the group he told), but he said, "Are you excited by your hit song ('No Matter What')? Good. Now get ready to play it everyday for the rest of your life!"

We also learned that Flo and Eddie from the band, The Turtles, are not in the least bit funny - even after several drinks! Somehow 12-year-old humor and 65-year-old men don't mix. Sorry guys.

But, the best trivia of all, a mon avis, came from two still cool dudes named Brewer and Shipley. Not only was their hit song banned by the FCC, it put them on Nixon's enemies' list. According to the duo, the song, "One toke over the line," was performed by not only the Grateful Dead but also Lawrence Welk's Gail and Dale. Although, I've read there is some dispute over whether Jerry Garcia played that tune, amazingly, with the Lawrence Welk story the proof is in the pudding.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Growing up is hard to do

Signs that you are a woman who is getting older (I don’t like the sound of “aging woman”)

By Meredith Leigh Knight

Note: I chose women because men don’t really have this problem. I mean, come on, if they are gray, they look distinguished, if they are losing their hair, they can shave their heads and look cool, and if they are overweight, they can buy a sports car. Really, it’s just not fair.

[Disclaimer: Any resemblance to the author is purely coincidental as none of the following apply]

All of your children’s teachers, including the principal, are young enough to be your daughter, and they remind you of that fact by calling you ma’am. (Click here to read my post on how I became a ma'am)

You’re in the doctor’s office and find a great magazine. You can relate to all of the articles; you like the actresses who are profiled; the topics are relevant. You flip to the front and see that it’s a magazine for women over 40 (not saying 40 is old, mind you, and on the bright side, it could have been AARP magazine).

You have had a discussion at some point about the possibility of having to shave hair off of your face.

You can’t wait for menopause.

You quit drinking alcohol and switched to milk because you are worried about osteoporosis. And drinking gives you a headache anyway.

Your son asks why your hair turns gray and then turns back to “normal.”

And if you aren’t gray yet, you scrutinize every hair that comes out of your head in the sunlight to see if it’s “the one.”

Your parents are starting to have health problems or worse. L

You have to ask your eleven-year-old how to do things on the computer.

You show up at your reunion and think you are in the wrong place because you don’t recognize any of these old people.

Your college-aged child’s sorority has 80s night in which they play “oldies” from the 80s, which happens to be when you graduated.

You cannot part with your curling iron and straightening irons remain a mystery.

You do not understand a word your teenager says.

When dealing with your kids, you feel a terrible sense of deja vu as you suddenly realize how your mom felt.

Have any more to add? I would love to hear them.









Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thank heaven for little boys


A picture says a thousand words, and if I hadn’t lost my camera this weekend, I would have taken one of my son when he came in from playing outside tonight.

God blessed me with two sweet and neat girls and one really messy boy. I have no doubt He knew what He was doing. Had I had more than one, I’m sure I would have been exasperated, but as it stands, my one boy fills me with daily amusement.

Today, he shot out the door after dinner, armed with several large plastic guns. Had I glanced up, I would have noticed that he was still wearing his school clothes and made him change. As it was, I continued to do the dishes as I yelled, “Have fun!”

Have fun he did. He burst in the door about an hour later, the front of his shirt and pants soaking wet and covered in mud. So, he does what any wet, dirty boy would do in this case – sits down on our white couch.

I stare incredulously as he gives me the contented smile of a kid who has been playing army in the mud.

“What happened to you?” I exclaimed, scrutinizing him.

“It’s a white shirt, mom,” he said, nonchalantly explaining the filth that covered him.

“It WAS a white shirt. Wait a minute, are your shorts wet?” I said, a little louder. “Take them off!”

He kind of shrugged and stripped down to his Sponge Bob briefs.

“Ewww!” said his sister. “Put some clothes on. You’re disgusting!”

He looked so hurt and totally perplexed that I couldn’t help but defend him. Right before I told him to get into the tub, that is.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Come Monday


I’m a firm believer in 2nd chances, and 3rd and 4th and 5th. Just ask my overgrown puppy. He’ll tell you. He looks at me with that sweet, trusting, loving face (see picture), and I immediately forgive him for the chewing, the barking, the sneaking in the house, and, yes, even the inappropriate sniffing that he does whenever I turn my back on him. In return, he forgives me for the fact that I grow weary of rubbing his belly after a few short minutes, I don’t walk him enough, and sometimes I slip off to the lake without him.

Back to 2nd chances, while some people dread Mondays, I look forward to them each week. I guess I take after my mom in that regard. Every Monday she would turn over a new leaf – start a new diet or exercise or cleaning regime - every Monday without fail. Funny how certain things from childhood stick with you.

Anyway, tomorrow is Monday, and I can’t wait. I’m going to work-out, go to bed earlier, so I can get more rest, work on my novel, query, query, query, be a better mom, plan ahead for dinner meals and no longer forget to write those thank you notes. And you know those character flaws of mine? If you know me, then you are nodding your head yes. Well, come Monday, they’ll be gone, or well on their way, anyhow.

After all, if I’m aware of them, I can do something about them, right? At least that’s the theory I’m working off of. Because although some may disagree, I truly believe people can change, if they want to. And, who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll turn into the person my dog thinks I am. It just might take a lifetime of Mondays.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Georgia on my mind


“Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through. Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my miiinnd ...”

Be glad you can’t hear me singing that. Although I don’t sound like Ray Charles, I do love that song.

It reminds me of watching the laser show at Stone Mountain as a child. One summer night a year (inevitably the hottest), my family and I would show up around dusk, spread out a big red Georgia Bulldog blanket (that I still own and use for picnics) and settle in to watch the laser show.

It was a huge event for my little sister and me. For one, we were introduced to the waffle cone there, which we got to buy only after we named the three Confederate heroes depicted on the mountain’s carvings. (Confederate President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and Lt. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Can I have my ice cream now?)

Dad would then give us a Georgia history lesson, which we happily listened to while we looked at the stars and played with our glow sticks that we’d begged for. Then the show would start with the country bears, followed by “The Devil went down to Georgia,” but always finishing with “Georgia on my mind.” That song felt like the national anthem to us.

So, when I stumbled across a blog called, Georgia on my Mind, I had to stop and give it a read, despite the fact that I was in the middle of research for an article with a deadline. I soon realized this was no ordinary blog.

Georgia on my Mind is an extensive collection of blogs authored by folks from my fair state. The founder of the site is a history teacher, and this site has enough Georgia history to satisfy even the most ardent buff such as my father.

The site is also home to the Georgia Carnival, which is Reader’s Digest-like collection of blogs written either by Georgians or about Georgia/Georgians on a variety of topics. (The moderator was kind enough to include my blog in the current listing). In addition, Georgia on my Mind blogs are categorized for the reader’s convenience. Click here to check it out. I can’t wait to find one about Stone Mountain’s laser show! And for some strange reason, I'm really craving a waffle cone!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. ?


I commented to a good friend that a recently reacquainted male friend had a different last name than he did in high school.

“Maybe he got married,” said my friend, tongue-in-cheek.

Which made me wonder…is there a man out there anywhere who has taken his wife’s name. If so, then, number one, I would love to interview him, and, number two, he must have had a really lousy last name!

Now, I’m not a raving feminist. I didn’t want to hyphenate my name (What happens once you have children? Is theirs hyphenated, too? And think of how much writing that will be for them in Kindergarten).

I didn’t want to keep my maiden name. (Our town’s still small enough that everyone would whisper that one’s children are illegitimate. Trust me, it bothers some people so much that mothers and fathers have different last names in the birth announcements that they write into the paper each week complaining, never considering that the mom might have hung onto her own name.)

Having said that, I had no problem taking my husband’s name. In fact, I dropped my maiden name altogether because I had to choose between it and my first name, which I happen to like. I just think it’s a pain changing everything over. Not only is it a pain, it’s virtually impossible. I’ve been married for 13 years, and my phone bill still comes in my maiden name. And I don’t even know how they got my maiden name! Just something to consider...

(Btw, thanks to the power of Google, I found the man! Click here to read more.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah


My daughter will be starting middle school soon, which made me nostalgic for my middle school days – NOT.

Middle school, which I attended in 8th grade versus 6th for her, was a huge adjustment for me. I came from a country school, where my mama worked, so everyone knew me, and I had no choice but behave because the teachers, lunchroom ladies and custodians didn’t mind telling her if I didn’t.

My new middle school housed over half the county and worked under a modern theory. Instead of closed classrooms, we had open pods. Had I worn my glasses, I could have waved at my friends across the pod. Instead I waved at strangers. You see, since I couldn’t see a lick, and my parents wouldn’t buy me contacts, I ended up saying hello to everyone in the halls as not to appear stuck up. As a result, I made lots of new friends; I just don’t know what they looked like.

Classes were separated by partitions, so I could hear the teacher next to me, who would inevitably be more interesting than mine. I went from two teachers to seven with a rotating schedule. For example, Monday would be classes A-G; Tues. would be G, F, A, B, C, D, E and so one. Despite its drawbacks, my new school had one major thing to offer that my elementary school didn’t – air condition!

Fashion was a big concern for me in middle school. My best friend had parachute pants in ten different colors – ten – just think about it. My mother, sensibly, told me I may have one pair. To my horror, it was a knock-off brand, so they looked a little like Lilly, Herman Munster’s wife’s, cape. But, hey, I wore them proudly, every other day. I also bought some camouflage pants from the Salvation Army. I was determined to be cool.

It was during middle school that I made a big discovery - I, Meredith Leigh Knight, was not gifted with the voice of a canary. I desperately wanted to be in show choir. They sang; they danced; they wore shiny costumes. I really wanted that. But, I had to try out. The days of being selected because my mama worked at the school were over. So, I practiced my song – “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” day in, day out. (My poor parents!)

Mother politely told me that the judges were probably looking for someone with a lot of personality, so I needed to smile while I sang. Heeding her advice, I practiced singing loudly with a smile on my face in the bathroom mirror. For weeks. Did I mention we only had one bathroom? (Again, my poor parents!)

So, the big audition day came, and my name was called. I went back ready to dazzle the judges with my bright smile (having just had my braces removed), only to find a curtain. I would be singing behind a curtain. I was being judged solely on my voice. I was so rattled that my “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” sounded weaker than ever (Think American Idol rejects). But I had a smile on my face, even if no one could see it.

Fortunately, my daughter is blessed with a beautiful voice. I have no idea if she’ll ever want to join show choir, but I do hope she can keep a smile on her face no matter what obstacles middle school presents. If not, I can always cheer her up with my rendition of "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." After all, it's hard to feel down with Mr. Bluebird on your shoulder.