Thursday, June 30, 2011

A-CAMPING THEY WILL GO (or, Mommy has some girl time!)

This is home for my hunky hubby for the next three days.

All three of my guys are gone to various getaway spots. Ronny and Jr Mint are in the woods camping with the Cub Scout pack, and Eldest is in Florida with his cousins.

Poor, poor lonely Mommy. *sigh*

When such an occasion arises that I'm sleeping single in my king sized bed, the gamut of emotions runs a wide berth. I adore ADORE, I say, plump pillows behind me and all my creature comforts within easy reach; nail polish, magazines, Nook, remotes, cell phone, netbook. As a general rule multi-tasking is not my strong suit, but this is an exception. I can text, talk on the phone, watch a movie, surf the net, read a magazine, and paint my nails simultaneously. One has to wonder then, why I can't help my kid with homework and answer my husband's questions and cook dinner all at the same time. But that's another post.

At any rate, apart from turning my bed into a girl party for one, once I settle down in the covers and turn the lights off I miss -yes, I really am saying - I miss hunky hubby's snoring. I heard my great aunt say one time that was one of the things she missed most about her husband who had recently died, listening to him snore beside her. She went on to say she wished she had appreciated it more while he was living instead of poking him to turn over and grumbling. She discovered only after he was gone what a comforting, peaceful sound it was and how uncomfortably quiet her nights were without it.

Can you even imagine the decibel level of snoring at the Scout camp-out? Yikes.

Here's another professional snorer. The big one. That's my baby brother with my boys. That, in fact, is another boy trip. They were touring a military ship and #1 Snorer of whom I spoke earlier was taking the picture.
Eldest doesn't snore, but he travels while sleeping. Jr Mint doesn't snore either, but he has discussions in his sleep. Between the three, nighttime is a pretty lively time at our home.

Back to Mommy time. There was a warm stone pedicure yesterday, and today there will be shopping. Probably not the kind of shopping you might assume. I need a rain barrel, bird seed and some fresh veggies, so I will be headed to Tractor Supply later on, and then to the farmer's market from there. My kind of shopping.

So tonight, fresh steamed vegetables for dinner. Mmmm. (The carnivores are camping.) If I'm lucky the fresh salsa guy will be at the farmers market and I'll have chipotle avacado salsa and chips with my veggies. Blueberry picking tomorrow. Mmmm. First Friday Art Walk tomorrow night, yaaaaay. Saturday my fellas come home, hoo-rah!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I usually repost this every Veterans Day, but I missed it this year. I think it's just as appropriate for Independence Day since we're celebrating the history, government, patriotism, and traditions of the United States.

It's a letter from my Dad to his Uncles on a Memorial Day several years ago. Pretty self explanatory. He copied my siblings and myself. He sent it to me in a plain white #10 envelope with a little note attached in his (usual) henscratch that said something simple like he thought I might like a copy, that this was something he felt strongly about and had for years and finally was able to articulate it -something like that, I don't remember his exact words now. I have it in my "treasures" box.

My Dad has a unique way of writing that combines factual information with the emotions he feels in a straightforward manner that, while it isn't flowery or wordy, is perfectly descriptive and yet poignantly eloquent. He puts a fine point on the subject and then blurs it a little. This is one of his most powerful pieces and I only read it once a year, but on that one occasion I read it over and over and over. And over. With a wad of Kleenex in hand. Then I thank God for my Uncle Paul and Uncle Ralph, my Dad, and so many thousands of others who could have been the recipient of this very letter.


"Dear Paul and Ralph,

I guess I would not have started this letter had not some things come together. Mainly the publication of the book THE GREATEST GENERATION by Tom Brokaw, the observance of Memorial Day by the nation, and the need I have to tell you both that you have always been my heroes. I'm sure I could not say that face to face without making a fool of myself. My son and I have frequently talked of the selfless, noble self-sacrifice of your generation during World War II, and have lamented the passing of that great large-hearted outlook in defense of your country. It has probably not been said as it should be said yet, but Tom Brokaw does a credible job while we are waiting for perfection.

Both my son and I are in awe of your generation. That something horrible has happened to the American heart and spirit between then and now we both know, but we do not know how to say it. The wonder for both of us is that the people of your generation are not affected by the current one. There remains the same spirit of manners, helpful cooperation, humility and the total lack of pretension as were present when you served.

Among the several blessings I realize regarding my children is that they all three got somehow the gene for analysis and the ability to see, quickly, to the core of a matter, and as a result we talk of the two of you more than you realize. I know you have seen the "media" coverage of Memorial Day and all the hype attendant on such an occasion. I doubt that all that meant much to either of you. Well, this letter is a poor attempt at bringing the hyperbole right down to the most elementary level, in an effort to persuade you, fifty four years after the fact, that, if you both had not risked getting you ass shot off a hundred, a thousand times, we would all likely be speaking Japanese or German now.

So never doubt that, in the extended family, everyone in my age range and younger, whether they say it or not, realize that we all owe you, both of you, a debt that we can never pay by simple thank yous. And it is not strange that the attempt to express what we feel chokes us up so that we feel like fools trying to get out what we feel.

We all know that you are heroes, and you will always be."


So happy Fourth, rah rah for the red, white and blue, and with all due respect to the Declaration of Independence and its import on this occasion, rather I'm celebrating the humans that have made independence possible through the generations and today.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


My youngest had his six month dental cleaning this morning. Bless his heart, his reports are never as good as his brother's. His older brother has no cavities, straight, strong teeth and a knock-em-dead smile. Jr. Mint has an underbite, a crossbite, and 'chalky' teeth. And braces. Bless his heart.

Today was no different. "He has a little cavity again," says Ms. Dentist.

"Why does he have one e-v-e-r-y time we come?" I wanted to know.

"Well," sighs Ms. Dentist, "could be his chalky teeth, could be diet, could be reflux." I had to inquire about the meaning of chalky as it pertains to teeth. New to me. Rough and slightly more porous than they ought to be, in case you were wondering.

Not only had our traditional six month cavity made an appearance, but his seals were worn off his back teeth. Gone.

"Gone??" I was scratching my head by this point in the conversation. "How does that happen?"

"Well," Ms. Dentist sighs again, eyebrows raised and shakes her head, sucks her teeth. "Could be his chalky teeth, could be diet, could be reflux."

"And," she continued, "sometimes it's just hereditary. Do you or his Dad have reflux?"

"Yep. His Dad. And his Grandmother, both Grandfathers, and a couple of aunts and uncles and cousins."

"Well!" Ms. Dentist's arms opened wide, palms up. "There it is. See you next time to fill that cavity and reapply his seals. Have a wonderful day."

There it is my foot. I got my kids by adoption, not by birth. Our entire family tree could be toothless. Every relative on every branch of both our family trees could have hiatal hernias, gastroesophageal reflux, heartburn. (Incidentally, hunky hubby calls relatives that are fairly far out the branches of the family tree 'branch kin'. It makes me cringe when he does, but it does paint a pretty accurate visual image.)

At any rate, no consanguinity. (I love that word.)

In the car after we left Jr. Mint's asking me about reflux - is it the same thing Dad has, what are we gonna do, why do we have to do anything, why does he have to have yet another doctor, can't he just be a person who has reflux?
"No," I said, "you can't. Know why? Because it's fixable. And if we fix it now, you won't have to deal with it in your adult life. You won't need that additional doctor. You won't have to take medication, sleep on a wedge or raise the head of your bed, stay away from spicy food, or have people cart you to the ER when you think you're having a heart attack. It's just like your teeth. We do braces now so you don't have headaches and TMJ and tooth erosion and bite problems when you're grown. You spend a lot more years being grown than being a kid. You want to go into adulthood with every physical advantage we can muster."

And then, then, here's what came out of my mouth to wrap up that snappy little diatribe. "Someday you'll thank me."

Nnnnnnnewwwwwwwww! Did I? Did I, did I really say it? Yeppers. In any event, I digress. That's immaterial to the point, but I felt the need to confess. I've become my Mother. *shudder*

We had forty eleven errands to run after the dentist, for which the first two Jr Mint couldn't eat or drink anything (for thirty minutes after the fluoride treatment). So now I have a Gloomy Gus accompanying me, dreary and dejected, put-upon. Grievous, heinous, shocking information had been uncovered which threw my nine year old into such a deplorable funk I was tempted to cut short the errands.

"Mom! How can you take this so calmly??? I have another cavity, which means another shot in my mouth, more drilling, FAT lips, NO eating for HOURS after, and nowwwwww, on top of all that, I got Dad's REFLUX TOO????? This is big, Mom. I'm nine years old, I have five doctors." (insert big eyeroll here)

"Ok, lets try to approach this from another angle," I respond. "You know how when you have plantar fasciitis during soccer season, and your feet hurt so badly, who is it that knows exactly what to do? And why?"

"Dad. It's Dad. Because he has it too."

"Uh huh. And when your neck is sore after you come home from the Chiropractor, who knows how to put ice packs then heat packs on it and rub it down with muscle rub?"

"Dad. It's Dad. Because he has it too."

"Yessir. And when you have writing assignments and you're sitting at the kitchen table with a pencil in one hand and your head in the other, who is it that knows exactly how you feel and commiserates with you?"

"Dad. It's Dad. He hates writing too. Mom? Do you guess God knew all that when he made me your son?"

Did He ever.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Patriotic Sunday, pew buddies, and unexpected blessings

Yesterday was Patriotic Sunday at church. It's a yearly tradition I look forward to, take Kleenex to, and hustle to arrive early to. That's three dangling prepositions already. Count the grammar mistakes if you will. There will be more. It's called conversational writing.

On Patriotic Sunday there's no sermon. There's no Gloria Patri, no Affirmation of Faith. It's a one hour program of music, narration, pomp and circumstance surrounding the branches of service, their flags, uniforms, and songs. Military attendees are invited to wear their uniforms, and are asked to stand as the congregation honors them. Congregation members who would like to stand in memory of someone do that too. We sing patriotic anthems, we watch the jumbotrons as pictures flash of military family members. Solo, duets and ensemble groups sing to us. It's a one hour "Thank You" dedicated to freedom and those who provide it, secure it, defend it, fight for it, sacrifice for it, and protect it.

If you don't arrive by 10:30 you run the risk of, minimally, not getting to sit in your traditional spot. Much later than that, of not getting to sit at all. We arrived a hair past 10:30 and were able to squeeze in to a pew on the SIDE, not our regular center pew seat. First realization. LOVE the side seats. Don't think I've ever sat in a side church pew. Well. With the exception of a wedding.

So until the service began, I had a respectable amount of space between myself and the semi-elderly woman sitting beside me, whom I didn't know. Sitting beside her however, was a lady I do know. She introduced my immediate neighbor as her mother. We spoke briefly and the mother asked me if I was expecting anyone else, and when I said no, she motioned for me to move closer to her. "I think we're ok," I replied, "but thank you".

Thirty seconds later I felt a polite poke on the shoulder. "Are you expecting anyone else?" No, I replied, but thanks.

A minute and thirty later I felt a pokity poke on the shoulder. "Are you expecting someone?" No ma'am.

Forty five seconds later. Poke poke. "Are you expecting another person?"

I smiled at her and shook my head. No ma'am. We're all here. The sanctuary was getting fuller, noisier, busier. She was getting a little agitated. Her daughter, on the other side of her, patted her leg occasionally and looked at her and smiled often.

I began to take a visual inventory and realization of the probable came quickly. I hadn't noticed anything unusual about her appearance at first glance. Seemed low profile and mainstream enough. Upon second look however, I noticed she was wearing black socks with her black Sunday shoes. One was a crew sock and the other an ankle sock. Her pants bagged unnaturally in the lap, as if she had them on backwards. Her arms and hands were fidgety and she looked about the room with an unusual smile on her face- the kind of smile that says either "I'm uncomfortable here," or "I'm not sure where I am but I think I'm supposed to know".

During the ceremony she sang along with the choir on occasion, giggled at times there was nothing to giggle about, pointed to people on the stage speaking, and poked me several more times to ask if I expected another person. She enjoyed the service.

When the service was over I turned to her and said "It was a pleasure sitting beside you this morning." To which she replied, "Oh hi. Are you expecting anyone else?" No ma'am, have a wonderful week. Bye.

So here's the thing about Alzheimers. There's a wide disconnect between people who live with Alzheimers patients and people who encounter them occasionally. (Pretty obvious statement, huh.) But stay with me. Mama's daughter sat on the other side of her. The daughter is a woman I attend Bible Study with, worked VBS with, and talk to at church fairly frequently. Never has she mentioned her Mom has Alzheimers. During the service she didn't dote on her Mother, shush her or manage her. Mom's behavior and appearance was left of normal but within parameters of acceptable social behavior. She just easily allowed Mom to be herself and enjoy her hour, as daughter enjoyed hers. I expect there will be a time in the future when that is no longer possible for the two.

So I guess there are heroes that have Sunday church services dedicated to them (as well they should) and heroes that sit quietly in the pew with their Mom or daughter. There aren't anthems dedicated to Alheimers victims, there isn't a flag or a uniform. I came to the service looking forward to honoring our military heroes and walked away with a renewed and deeper honor of personal heroes, and the families of all.

As I told my pew neighbor that I had enjoyed sitting with her I put my arm around her shoulders. She immediately leaned in and smiled while looking up at me. Didn't have a clue who I was but she hugged right back. I choose to think "Are you expecting someone" really meant "I enjoyed sitting with you too but my brain won't let me say it right now".

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Life I Lead, and other parallels

I walk early in the mornings. Have to. It's 90 degrees by 10:00am. In order to get in five miles before the Georgia landscape sizzles like shrimp on a spit, I have to hit it by 7:00am. I have several lovely choices for venue, all resplendent with the lush scenery of God's artistry (the deep South version). There are two tracks within two miles. Both are surrounded three sides by tall, old, strong pine trees and 100 year old oaks, dogwoods tucked among them. There's privet within sniffing distance and jasmine crawling up a fencepost. One of them is 1/2 mile track that surrounds my kids' lush green soccer fields, and at 7:00am the sprinklers are giving the grass a drink. Without fail, one errant sprinkler turns around and decides to arc over the track and water the sweaty, overheated walkers/joggers instead. It's a treat.

(My house is a couple of miles behind the tallest trees - the ones behind the concession building.)

The other track is the high school track. I find something oddly comforting about school buildings, and this track's fourth side scenery is the High School. The science department has built a bird commune on the back side of the track at the woods edge. There are at least eight or ten bird houses and as many feeders, and I get serenaded for the duration of my walk when I choose that track. The track itself is the cushy stuff that feels like chipped up tires with Elmers glue caulk, and it's banked - since it is a cross country competitive team track. In order to keep my hips from feeling cattywampus after a few laps, I change direction. Fairly surprising to me that the scenery changes so much in the same spot just because you change directions. Check out the background:
(My house is less than a mile behind that tallest stand of trees.) You can see a tad of the pink track behind the team. I don't have a good picture of this track. I need to snap a good one next time I go. You just gotta see.

The third place is the Silver Comet Trail. Can't describe the scenery because there's just. so. much. Just look.

See what I mean????? So here's the point. At 7:00am when you are blessed enough to be standing at any of these spots pictured and healthy enough to be able to walk for miles, WHAT could be better, I'm askin' you????

It's the perfect opportunity to listen, since fortunately my feet make tracks without me having to think about it much. It may be a trick God uses to keep me from realizing how far I've walked, it may be the environment that's impossible to navigate without understanding the depth of God's presence and pervue, it may be that it's a combination of both those things or others I'm not aware of, but whatever it is, I get a personal lesson from the Creator of me and the environment I'm in. Every. Time. I. Walk.

Today I was aware that since God is my Father, that makes me a Princess. (I didn't come up with that. My very wise friend Bee shared that one with me.) Then I became aware that as selfish, thoughtless, thick, impatient and judgmental as I am I surely must test His patience on a regular basis. That made me chuckle. Until I realized that's the relationship I'm supposed to have with my children. He's the model for parenting. I fail miserably. Regularly. So while I was alone, taking in this lush picture, breathing fresh cool morning air, I could easily see how perfect my children actually are and how I am to parent them based on my Father's example - that I will guide them instead of snapping at them, that I will be understanding of their actions and lovingly take their hand and help them along their way like my Father does for me. It's a valuable lesson for me to learn in the summer, when the three of us are together 24/7 for days at a time.