Thursday, November 30, 2006


Chipper chilly children cheerfully chant.

Sunday Santa sang silly songs.

Eleven elves lick eleven little licorice lollipops.

Comet cuddles cute Christmas kittens carefully.

Two trains travel together to toyland.

Santa's sack sags slightly.

Ten tiny trains toot ten times.

This was the family activity at bedtime. There were more - OH so many more but you get the jist. My nine year old looks at his daddy with a glassy eyed expression and his mouth open, cocks his head and says, "Dad, what the heck are chilly children?" His Dad looks at him and cocks his own head right back, perplexed.

"Well," says Dad. "My guess is they're kids that are slightly cold, son." This takes a moment to sink in.

A light slllllooooooowly comes on. The elevator slowly goes up to the top floor. My son giggles at his own statement, then the giggle becomes a bellysnort which travels to his cheeks and shoulders simultaneously, his cheeks turning into tight, shiny apples and his shoulders shaking uncontrollably. "I thought it meant Chili Children. Like Soup Children or Chowder Children."

Boys. When do they ever stop relating everything to food?

Monday, November 27, 2006


Yep. I can see my own cheecks under my eyes. I ate that much. Ate like an obsessed moron. No, make that I was an obsessed moron. There's too much of meeeee.

Thursday we had Thanksgiving at our home for my handsome husband's family. It was a beautiful day, outside and in. My children enjoyed the company of their cousins, playing outside so hard until when it was time to eat they came inside soaking wet with sweat, breathing hard from the bottom of their lungs, and not in the least interested in food. They washed their hands dutifully, went through the motions, head bowed hands folded Amen, yes I ate a bite of the green stuff, yes I cleared my plate, yes I drank some juice, yes I said thank you can I go BACK OUTSIDE NOW PAH-LEEEEEEEEZ???

We had a few more folks at Thanksgiving at my house. My new sister that my brother in law (husband's brother) gave me had Thanksgiving at her house last year. It was her first in the family and she jumped right in. She's that kinda gal. I am so thankful. Anyhooter, she and BIL have fabulous friends-for-neighbors. Live on a cul-de-sac and we know them all because they all were integral in their wedding last year, and come frequently to family events that are held at BIL's house. One couple was going to be alone on Thanksgiving. Kids are grown and so on. . . . Ohhhhh, nnnnnewwwww. They came to our house.

My handsome husband enjoyed his Thanksgiving day, in his own words, "more than any Thanksgiving since Daddy's been gone". That's seven years. I am so thankful.

Friday morning we got up, packed an overnight bag, and went to my Mom and Dad's. When we arrived I went to my Grandmother's house next door where my sister was preparing the dressing for my Grandmother. She has taken over this duty since my Grandmother, who is ninety nine years old, can't manage it any longer. I have to say she does a bang-up job, and it's not easy to get it just right for Grandmother, the sage, the black pepper, the salt, the chicken broth, because she never had a recipe to speak of, not to mention the fact that she's naturally very disturbed well maybe irked is a better term that she can't do it herself so she's somewhat - er - snippish at times. You know, it happens to everyone when our bodies fail us, alrightie? I'll be the same way when I'm ninety nine, I guarantee. Heck I'm that way now. But anyhoosie, seester is so very kind to Grandmother and smooths right over it, continuing with grace and style, patting Grandmother on the shoulder and sing songing calming reassuring words while all along moving in a continuous motion in the kitchen to work out the kinks in the dressing to the satisfaction of Grand Matriarch on her oak rocker throne with the cabbage rose cushion, her sweet hands folded in her lap and her feet crossed at the ankles, sitting like the Southern lady she's been all her ninety nine years. I am so thankful.

Saturday morning seester and I took our kids on an adventure. Kept them out all day. Took them to the Discovery Museum, took them to eat lunch, took them for ice cream. Inbetween stops travelling from one place to the next, they all spent time in the back of the van together, and seester and I got to talk. When has that happened? Minivans are good there I said it. Make you look like Mommys, but guess the hell whut. We are. No shame in being what you are, and couldn'ta done that in a porsche. I am so thankful.

Now we're back home, it's Monday, things are frightfully normal again. I am so thankful.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I got to be Room Mom (it's called Party Mom these days. whutever.) for Jr. Mint's preschool class quite by default this year. At orientation at the beginning of the year, Jr. Mint and I were the last ones to leave and the line was still blank. Teacher looked at me with pleading eyes, what could I do. There it is.

So today was the Thanksgiving feast. Now here's the background story. All year long (keep in mind this is preschool, not brain surgery, 'kay? and there's not much to this Room -oops!- Party Mom thang at the Preschool level). An untrained person can do it which is why I'm holding my own. Mostly about communication and organization, and I'm not good at muchanuthin but I can do those two things with my hands tied and blindfolded, baby. Anyhoodiepo. Every time I send out a broadcast email to the parents Joyce shoots me one right back saying "I think it might be better if . . . .", and then she always ends it with, "Just a thought!" Ugh. Sometimes she's right. Lotsa times. I appreciate the input. She's a smart gal. Thing is she likes to carbon copy all the other parents with the tweaky suggestions. Arrgggghhh. Makes everyone uncomfortable. But whaddya do.

A pattern began to develop. No one could make her happy and nothing was ever done just right. So school started in September and here we are at the end of November. Joyce is one of the two Moms that was responsible for today's Thanksgiving Feast and since I'm the Party Mom I was there too to make sure everything went smoothly, to be there in case they needed any help. And as you can imagine, Joyce is a perfectionist so today's party was incredibly organized, the centers were beautifully prepared and everything went like clockwork. BUT. During the pilgrim hat craft center, (where the hat was made with a fudge stripe cookie and a marshmallow dipped in melted chocolate.....looked just like a pilgrim hat, too) my Jr. Mint dropped his chocolate covered marshmallow into his lap before it made it to his fudge stripe cookie. Well he didn't care too much, but it got all over Joyce. She was shaken. She was upset. She wanted to take his pants off and go wash them out in the sink. (They keep an extra set of clothes there.) She apologized to me profusely.

"Joyce," I said. "Presoak is our friend. It's JUST chocolate!" Joyce wasn't convinced.

"Wait'll your son gets this age," I said. He's nine months old now. She just got back with him from Moscow. My gosh he's beautiful. Oh. That's another story. Anyhow. "Wait'll your son gets this age. His pants'll look like this too. Don't worry about it!"

Still not convinced.

"Listen," I said. "As soon as we get home, Jr. Mint will go outside with a toy in each hand and either sit in the driveway or sit in the pile of leaves in the front yard. When he comes back in, I won't be able to SEE that spot of chocolate because the spots of yard dirt will be camouflaging it. So you and my son go finish his pilgrim hat. Okay?"

I think I actually saw her muscles relax. I know I heard her let out an audible sigh of relief.

For the rest of the party, she seemed more relaxed, more eager to participate in discussions between parents, easier to laugh and talk. Maybe it was my imagination. I hope not. Maybe I won one today. A parent that is. . . .

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Getting ready for Thanksgiving. Funny how you look at your house with new eyes when you're having a googlezillion people over. My handsome husband is re-caning antique ladderback dining room chairs that our derrieres have been hanging out of for two years now, and re-gluing a kitchen chair that has been in the basement for six months. I have gotten up the gumption to wrap up a project or two that came to a skreeching standstill months ago. It's quite a head scratcher, when you figure you're s'posed to treat your family like company and your company like family. But then, since it is family coming over for Thanksgiving, I guess we're goin' about it right proper-like.

My kids on the other hand, will go the opposite direction with their rooms when they prepare for Thanksgiving and see how much stuff they can get OUT. That way when their cousins get here they're fully loaded and ready for an entire day of all-out . . . . whew I don't even wanna KNOW what. Hopefully it'll be warm enough outside where most of the whatever-they're-gonna-do will take place in the yard or the fort. Please God.

Two years ago just before Thanksgiving I found out a friend, who was also #1 son's best friend's Mom, had an inoperable brain tumor. They gave her only a few months to live. She was five months pregnant, her military husband was getting ready to be sent to Iraq, holidays were here. She had a six year old and a fourteen year old. Melanie died four months later, in February.

This is the third Thanksgiving since I heard that news, second Thanksgiving since she died. Everyone knows how priorities shift and silly sediment falls out and the real things rise to the top when something like that happens, it's happened to us all, but Thanksgiving changed in the most remarkable way that year and has remained changed in my life, in my heart. I owe it to Melanie. She was a devoted Christian with a deep faith. She lived it, she exuded it, she claimed it.

Our family Thanksgiving was at our home that year too - the year Melanie was diagnosed. I bought Chinet plates and go-cups and a paper harvest tablecloth, and had the kids go out in the yard and gather pinecones and beautiful acorns and other treasures, and scatter them in the center of the tables for our 'centerpieces'. That was the extent of time spent on decorating and gussying up the tables or the house. I believe we had twenty eight that year. It was a blast.

May get out the china this year, may not. May wash the tablecloths and send them out to have them pressed, may not. I'm fairly certain I'll go by Publix and pick up the latest and greatest in the Little Pilgrim collection, so the salt and pepper won't sit alone. That's a kick. Point is, Thanksgiving is whatever we decide to make it nowadays. And it's peaceful and calm and it remains a holiday for the giving of thanks. Not the washing of china. Unless we want it to be.

Thank you Melanie.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Every year at my son's elementary school there's a Veterans Wall. Students are asked to bring pictures of relatives that served, and these pictures are put up on the wall for the week prior to Veterans Day. The wall is on the main hallway of the school and is at least forty feet long, stretching from the front door of the school where the main office is located all the way down to the secondary, or parallel hallway. It's the main thoroughfare of the school.

Each year my son takes the same picture of his Grandaddy and places it on the Veterans Wall. It's an 8x10 sepia. Not quite black and white, not quite color. Rosy cheeks, brownish tones with a litle mauve thrown in, but the layer underneath is black and white all the same. It's a picture that was done, at some time waaaaay in the past, before my time even but passed down to me, on heavy duty photographic quality card stock. If you believe in fate, you'd think mayhaps it was because little hands, decades later, were going to take it to school every year, year after year, and place it on a Veterans Wall that six hundred children would tromp and flounce and skitter by a dozen times a day for five days.

Not sure how much of Veterans Day my #1 son comprehends right now in his realm of consciousness. He's nine. Not sure how much of it I want him to comprehend. It tears my heart out when I close my eyes and contemplate it myself, and I'm forty seven. I only want to understand it to the extent that I can sincerely and graciously, to the depths of my being, be thankful for those who have the sense of deep dedication, loyalty, understanding of responsibility and service . . . . . . . to go where they have gone and do whatever they have done. I can't even think and never have understood how anyone could lead normal lives after such a thing and whether that shows how silly and shallow I am or how beautifully trained and sadly unappreciated they are or were I don't know but either way or both who could ever do more for their country and family and people they don't even know than this?

So someday my nine year old and my four year old will 'get it'. In the meantime, every year they'll proudly haul the sweet sepia tone picture of their Grandaddy to school and smack it up on the Veterans Wall for six hundred kids to walk by a dozen times a day for five days in a row.
Happy Veterans Day to Daddy and to Junior, my Daddy that my husband gave me, and thank you for defending our Country. And Happy Veterans Day to all Veterans, and many many thanks!!!

Here's a link to a prior blog entry where I shared a letter my Dad wrote to his uncle, thanking him for his service to our country: It's worth reading, if you don't mind my bragging on my Dad's raw honesty and eloquence.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tea and a scone OH HELL NO YOU ENT

I was sitting at Barnes and Noble the other day with a hot Tazo and a blueberry scone reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Actually. I wasn't reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I was reading love letters written to Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Robert Browning. I was in my happy, peaceful place, I had exactly twenty three more minutes before I had to spring out of the comfy chair I was all gooshed up in to go get Jr. Mint and become The Mommy Van again, there was nice music coming through the speakers and I was partially sub-aware of murmur-minutia occuring around me which was kinda nice itself. Then. From somewhere behind and to the right came a mean, loud, baaaaaad OH NO. OH HELL NO YOU ENT A GONNA. DOAN CHU EEEEVEN THEENK ABOUD IT. DOAN MAKE ME COME OVA DEAH!!!

Now. . . . . from the tone of the voice and the way she spoke it was obvious she was speaking no hollerin' at a child, but with the insertion of the word HELL who could be sure? Anyhoosie the point was. . . . mood was gone, Barretts were no longer speaking to each other, suddenly the scone seemed like just a biscuit and the Tazo just a cuppa sumpin, and I just left early in a funk to get Jr. Mint. Became The Mommy Van twenty one minutes early. On the way out I purposely took the route by OH HELL NO mouth. Indeed she had been speaking with her TODDLER. The funk stayed with me for a little while. I didn't care a flip about being jolted out of my happy place, or being ripped from the Brownings twenty one minutes early. The funk was a "how could anyone talk to a sweet baby like that" funk. Sort of a "I'd kinda liked to have run into her quite by accident with my knitting needles" funk. Maybe a "Oops! I am so sorry I don't know HOW I tipped my Tazo down your pants" funk.

I guess I should be glad she had her toddler in a bookstore. There are worse things.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


That's what my sister's working on. She's the Instructional Specialist for the middle school in the very town where we grew up. She and her best friend, who is the Head of the gifted department of the same school, co-authored the original grant application for the school which resulted in the awarding of $312,000 in Comprehensive School Reform Grant money for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years.

The school is using the money to implement a national award winning program called the QuEST school improvement model. Seester facilitates the grant and serves as the academic coach for the school.

According to the figures related in a longitudinal study begun in the 2005-05 school year, schoolwide scores reported gains in the percentage of students who met or exceeded expectations in all content areas recorded.

Reading scores increased by 7 percent, language art scores increased by 11 percent, and math scores increased by 7 percent. "Positive progress in every area is due to extreme focus on teaching, posting and internalizing the performance standards for middle school students in Georgia."

Yeah yeah yeah. It's all cause of my seester.

Now besides that leetle accomplishment *har* she has two beautiful children and a kind, endearing husband. Not to mention. She purty.