Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Little Eyes, turn away, so as not to ruin Christmas Day.

Many of you know that I am a frequent user of a website called As I was perusing posts this morning, I came across a post entitled "What do you believe?". My first thoughts were that the post would be about religion, especially what do you believe regarding the meaning of Christmas. However, it was about Santa. The lady asking the question went on to tell us that she was raised that "the idea of Santa is real. That there was a man who dressed in red and white and did deliver gifts to kids one night a year. If you look into it, there was a person." She went on to say that she was 25 years old and still believed in the spirit of Santa and the spirit of the Christmas season.

Then, it got my wheels to turning and I began to think of my own memories of Santa.

I remember my years of growing up with the concept of Santa Claus. My daddy would always tell me, "You better get to bed or Santy Claus can't run!!!" That always scared the living daylights out of me, but in a good way. One year, I was being particularly late in going to bed and kept procrastinating for some reason or another. I think I was eight or nine years old and we lived in Jacksonville. Our dear friends, Jane and Lloyd, were over at our house that Christmas eve. I don't know how late it was, but it was important that I get to bed so Santa could come and drop off his load of gifts. After getting "The Look" from both Jane and my mom, I still wouldn't go to bed. The next things I heard struck a kind of fear in my heart that I don't know I've experienced since. I heard heavy, thumping footsteps on the roof with loud jingle bells. My little feet were never more swift. The next morning, Santa had indeed "run" and I was blessed with gifts. I cannot remember what I got that year, but I do remember the lengths either my daddy or Lloyd went to to make it real for me. That Christmas morning, on the hearth next to the fireplace, there was a boot print on the bricks of the hearth. Another little touch to make it all the more magical and real. Looking back, the pattern of that boot print (that I remember and can still see in my mind's eye) very closely matches the pattern of the underside of the steel-toed boots my daddy wore all those years on the railroad. ; ) It's the tiny things that I remember that make me smile with sweet nostalgia.

One year, I think it was in the 5th grade, there was talk that Santa wasn't real. I bought into the idea that maybe it really was Mom and Dad. However, I had a very small little brother at home. (We're almost ten years apart.) I made a vow to myself right then and there that even if I didn't necessarily believe in Santa anymore, that I would never ruin it for my little brother. I'm proud to say that I kept that promise and let him find out for himself. When I was 14, he was four. That year, my mom forgot to put something out for me that was from Santa. She took me into her closet, where the forgotten gift was stashed, and told me The Truth About Santa. I told her I kind of already knew, but I agreed to continue to play along so I wouldn't ruin that special magic of childhood for him. By the time he was 13 or 14, he knew too and Santa ceased to come to my mom and dad's house. It was a little bittersweet. However, I was able to begin the tradition with my own children just a few short years later.

I couldn't help but reply to the post this morning. Here were my words regarding the belief of Santa and the spirit of the Christmas season:

"I'm the same way. And, if I'm being honest, I still gaze at the sky with wonder and look for that blinking red beacon of childhood. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and nostalgic, if only for a few moments. My favorite time to look up is after coming out of the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. It's cold and right around midnight and you can just feel something magical in the air."

I will always remember that Christmas with the jingle bells and the *thunk thunk thunk* on the roof. I will always remember how my brother used to be so excited that he'd shake as if he were standing in a snowdrift without a coat. I will always remember how Daddy would say, "Santy Claus can run if you're not in bed!", and how my mom would tell me, "Santa Claus is watching you!" with a menacing glimmer in her eye in order to correct my behavior. It cracks me up that she says it to my kids and even still says it to me when I'm snarky.

Thanks, Mama and Daddy, for making Christmas magical for all those years.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hittin' the club scene

I think retailers are preparing my soon-to-be nine year old daughter for the club scene.

Seriously, though, have you looked in the GIRLS' clothing section lately?! Pretty much everything looks like it's ready to send my third grader out for a night of club-hopping or, worse yet, down to the strip club to perform. Everything is sequined and bedazzled and looks better suited for someone that's old enough to legally buy and consume an alcoholic beverage than for an elementary-aged little girl. I know not all little girls are made the same, but I'm pretty sure most of them still run and climb and jump and stand on their heads in the dirt. They run around their neighborhoods and orchestrate elaborate games of "Mom-Sweetie" (that's how you play 'Baby and Mom' at my house) and freeze tag. They slide across the gym at their school and rub holes in the knees of their pants and jeans. They're kids. They are supposed to be learning how to write in cursive and learning their multiplication tables. They are NOT supposed to look like miniature hookers.

So, hear me now Large American Clothing Manufacturers:

I AM SICK OF THE WHORISH CLOTHES YOU MAKE FOR CHILDREN! I will NOT buy your stripper-esque clothing for my child, no matter how much she whines or begs. I am taking a stand against your companies and telling you flat out that I won't support your business as long as you continue to make and sell clothes that make our little girls look like two-bit tramps.

You need to listen to the middle-class moms that support your business, because I know for a fact I'm not the only one who feels this way. WE are sick of the products you produce and want better-looking, more-wholesome attire for children. While you're at it, you can get rid of the disrespectful sayings and slogans that "adorn" some tee-shirts. Stuff like "I'm kind of a big deal" and "I <3 Nerds. They do my homework." just send the wrong message, in my opinion.

Clean it up. Quick. If you don't, you'll be out of business very soon.

©JLS 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wise Words from an Unexpected Source.

"God's plan or not, it still hurts."

I am simply amazed at how my God works. Most of you readers will wholeheartedly agree. It's what we're "trained" to believe. Well, I say trained but I guess I really mean taught or led. Bear with me here, I promise I have a point but it may take me a while to get there.

Most of you know of our fire from this past June. Some of you are more closely acquainted with the utter anger and bitterness and heartache I've experienced over the past couple of weeks because of it. A dear friend told me that it may all be hitting me now because I was so busy over the summer; traveling here and there, moving in, getting settled in a new house, starting school, surgery on King Tot (yes, that's his new moniker) and just finding out how our new routine works. A couple weeks ago, what I thought was a raging case of PMS just didn't go away. I poured out my heart and my hurt to some very special women. They supported me in ways I didn't know existed and even doled out a little tough love. They know what to say and when to say it.

One of these sweet women said something so utterly profound today that it just made me stop and let out a gasp, which left my mouth just hanging open for a moment. She said the words that are the first line of this post. When she said it, she was referring to another mutual friend's Facebook post about a camp counselor from her youth. The former counselor is now a Presbyterian minister. The mutual friend told us of how the pastor, Adam, and his wife, Sarah had suffered what was thought to be a miscarriage of their twin boys. As it turned out, they were born very, very prematurely and passed on after about an hour with their family. I can't even fathom the utter heartbreak they are feeling this day. Now, here's what made this all so amazing to me: my friend, who said the profound words, does not subscribe to my own belief system. She does not classify herself as a Christian. Yet, she said those words and it just rocked me inside. You see, God had that fire back in June in my life plan. And you know what? It hurt. Not physically, because we ran away into the rain as fast as our feet would carry us. It hurt because it was totally unexpected and came from out of left field, so to speak. It hurt because there were people I thought I could count on who turned out to be completely useless. It hurt because only a handful of people who are in close proximity bothered to lift a finger. (Now don't hear me wrong, I am exceedingly grateful to those who did help, especially to a certain two who went above and beyond. You know who you are.) It hurt when we found out we had no place to lay our head and the very people I thought I could count on were nowhere to be found. God's plan or not, it still hurts.

The pain Adam and Sarah are feeling this day is very different from my own. They lost their sweet boys. I lost my sense of security, my sense of faith in family, my routine and a myriad of other things. God's plan or not, it still hurts. It may continue to hurt for a while yet, but I know that the ultimate physician not only heals bodies from sickness but can also heal hearts that are broken. Eventually, I'll not be wound up quite so tight when severe thunderstorms hit. Eventually, I may work up the courage to speak to those who made me feel like I had just been temporarily inconvenienced instead of completely uprooted. Eventually, Adam and Sarah will stop crying and let God heal their broken hearts, firm in the knowledge that they'll see their precious boys again one day. I'm sure they have a good, solid support network and they'll never know that a 35 year old mom in Alabama is praying for their broken hearts and for comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding.

I am amazed that God uses everyone to help us overcome obstacles and hurdles. The words of my friend today helped me to lay some things out on the table and to get them off my chest, so to speak. Today, God used a non-believer to help draw me closer to Him. I am thankful for her and for the group of women we both know and love.

Monday, October 4, 2010

R-O-L-L-T-I-D-E! Rollllll Tide Rollllll!!!!

This past Saturday, I was given the opportunity to attend my very first Alabama football game. Well, not truly or technically my first, but it was my first one in Tuscaloosa. (I'd only been to two other games in my life: Bama vs. Ga Tech waaaaay back in the early 80s when Tech was still an SEC team, and then back in 1991, when the Iron Bowl was still played at Legion Field.) It had been nearly 20 years since ANY game day experience so I'd say I was well past overdue.

My football spirit had been languid this year. I think it was because of the weird and unusual summer we had because of our house fire. Everything is just different now and I was having a hard time feeling like I usually do this time of year because everything has been incredibly unusual.

My friend Kelly called me Saturday a week ago (Sept. 25) and asked what I was doing on the next Saturday (Oct. 2). I casually replied that I was doing jack-squat. She asked if I could find a sitter for next Saturday night and I said I probably could manage to do so. I asked if I needed to find a sitter so both Cal and I could do this something with her or was it just for me. She said, "No, just you." I knew then that something was up. Her next question confirmed my suspicions. "How would you like to go to the Alabama game with me next Saturday night?" she casually asked.

Surely ye jest. Please don't tease me so.

Fortunately, she was dead serious. : )

We made our plans and I informed King Waffle (nickname change coming soon!) that he would be keeping Poodle, Slick and Noob next Saturday night whether he liked it or not.

I still had a hard time getting excited as the week progressed. I got up Saturday morning and got showered and dressed and waited patiently for her to arrive. I was still wondering if it was all real until she pulled up outside the house. When I saw her car with the Bama flags flying from the back window, I lit up. "I really get to go!", I thought.

We left and headed toward Tuscaloosa. Our first stop was Taco Casa. From there, we headed to downtown T-Town and parked. There was an energy and electricity in the air that you just had to be there to experience. We made our way down the street and began to see more and more traffic. Fans streamed up and down the streets and sidewalks sporting their team's colors. As we got closer to the stadium, the smack talk began to freely flow from one car to another, from car to pedestrian and from person to person across the street. The smell of beer hung in the air, even at 1:00 in the afternoon. As we continued down the street, we approached the area known as "The Strip". As we walked a little further down the street, suddenly the top portion of Bryant-Denny Stadium appeared over the top of a small building. I was not expecting to see it so soon and yelled to my friend, very excitedly I might add, "Kelly!!! THERE IT IS!!!!!" She turned and looked at me and couldn't help but giggle at me. I tell you, it doesn't take much to excite and amuse me. A few steps further and we were at the official entrance to the campus. I had to stop and pose next to the sign. As we made our way towards our destination, the sea of crimson got so thick that you could hardly see the street ahead of you. I was wowed to see Denny Chimes and then turned around to see The President's Mansion directly across the street. We walked around the hundreds of tents and found our destination, the CBS 42 tent. We were welcomed into the tent with a soft chair and a nice cold bottle of water. From there, we continued walking and looking and touring. We came to a tent that had former players Andrew Zow and Shaun Alexander signing autographs. We got word that Brodie Croyle and another player were down the street in the Sports Illustrated tent. There was just so much going on and I was soaking up as much as I could without letting all my crazy spill out onto the scantily-clad sorority girls that kept walking by. Eventually, we made our way back to the CBS tent where we were delighted to indulge in free Dreamland ribs and banana pudding. (Some of you know about Dreamland and you'll know that getting them for free was quite a treat!) We ate our ribs and our banana pudding and then made our way back toward the stadium. There, we stood in line at the front of the stadium and waited for The Walk of Champions to begin. This is where the coaches and players make their way into the stadium prior to the beginning of the game. Finally, after waiting for 45 minutes in the throng of people, the buses arrived and the line began. Coach Saban was flanked by several sheriff's deputies and Alabama State Troopers. Then the players made their way down the path. I got to see Mark Ingram and Greg McElroy. (I actually saw all of them, but those were the only two I immediately recognized.) After the processional went by, we walked across the plaza and took pictures of the statues of Coach Stallings and The Bear. Next, we made our way back over towards The Quad where we found Big Al, the cheerleaders and several members of the Million Dollar Band. We made our way over to The Mound at The Quad where we found the trombone section doing some warm-ups. It was so neat to get to see them doing their thing and to just have fun doing so. We wanted to stick around for the Elephant Stomp, but Kelly told me we might miss kickoff if we waited too long to head back to the stadium.

When we got to the stadium entrance, I was mesmerized all over again. She handed me my ticket and I got a little emotional. It was a little surreal; something I'd longed for for years was finally in my possession. We got up to the gate and I handed them my ticket. I was a little nervous because I truly didn't believe I was so fortunate to even be standing there and ready to go inside. The man took my ticket, tore off the stub and then handed it back to me with a big "ROLL TIDE!". Kelly was already inside waiting for me and I looked at her with my mouth hanging open and said, "They let me in!" She cracked up at my giddiness. Again.

Next was the long walk up the spiral ramps. When we finally made it to the top, we walked to the spot where we'd enter the field. When we finally made it inside, I was overcome with emotion and then here came the tears. I guess only a nerd like me gets all teary-eyed when entering a football stadium. I had to holler for Kelly to stop so I could get my act together. When she turned and saw me wiping my eyes, she said, "Jen, this is almost a religious experience for you, ain't it?!" I think she's almost right. It was just And I don't regret it at all.

We finally made it to our seats and had a great view of all the action. We saw the team go through warm-ups. We saw them enter the field to the sound of thousands upon thousands of cheers. I got all emotional again when the first chords of 'Yea Alabama!' started up. It was SO awesome to be able to sing it with all the fans.

When the game started, I cheered every cheer. I yelled "ROLL TIDE!" I don't know how many times. I sang 'Yea Alabama' every time the band played it. I yelled 'Rolllllllllllllllllllll....TIDE ROLL!' with each and every kickoff. I jumped up with a giant yelp at the awesome interception which was returned for a touchdown. was the end and there was a 31-6 score.

It was Rammer Jammer time, my friends.

Singing Rammer Jammer with 100,000 of my closest friends was quite an awesome experience. You can sing along with the TV at home, but it's just electrifying to sing it there in person.

Then, sadly, it was time to go.

As we made our way back towards the car, we were inundated with shouts of "ROLL TIDE!" and "GO BAMA!". The Gator fans, surprisingly, did not appear sad and dejected, as I would have. They walked down the street, silently. The scantily-clad sorority girls seemed to have progressed to even fewer clothes than they'd had on previously. Someone puked in the street. I almost walked right into the middle of a fight on a corner. The smell of beer still hung in the air, but it was much more potent and pungent now. Sirens wailed. People yelled. The crowd was thick. But all the while, I grinned and grinned and thanked God a million times for the fabulous, perfect day I had. Everything I hoped and prayed for came to pass. It was one of the best days I can ever remember and I hope I'm blessed enough to get to do it again. Soon.

I leave you with just a small fraction of the 764 pictures I took. Yes, I took more than seven hundred pictures in one day. Click the link to see the pics:

Thursday, September 30, 2010


All Hail the King!

*needle scratching off record* (You know, like it does in the movies.)

Last Friday, King Waffle abdicated his throne. It had been a long time coming, but it was finally time for him to step down and take our family in a new and different direction. He served his kingdom faithfully for more than ten years and is ready to be a nobleman within a new kingdom. I won't spill any specifics here, but if you want to know more you can shoot me an email. I don't want to be accused of bad-mouthing or slander by any of the former employers.

In light of his abdication, many of my friends (both of the internet and 'real-life' variety) have asked what his new nickname will be. Honestly, I'm not sure yet. But, I'd like to share some of the suggestions that have been tossed my way and see what the masses think. After all it is you, his loyal subjects, who will address him. ; )

Here's a list of our suggestions. Please feel free to share your own within the comments section.

King Cherry Limeade
King Coney Dog
King Cheesy Tot
King of the Carhops
Sovereign of Sonic
King of All That Glitters
King Cojones (Because of the *ahem* gusty manner in which he stood up to the former employer.)
Mr. Jeffy (I kinda like this one)

You've probably guessed where he's going to be working now. It doesn't necessarily have to go along with that particular line of work though. Chime in and tell me what you think!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Science Project


Consider yourself warned.

Many of y'all know that I'm a little odd. Sometimes I've even come right out and warned someone that I'm terribly strange inside my head, but I just do a good job of not acting so in public. So, in case you haven't been told by me personally, here it is: I'm weird.

Now, on to our experiment.

If you're a living, breathing American, you are likely aware that we are officially in the midst of football season. Most people you run into have a team who they will root for and defend with a ferocity that surpasses their love for their own children. They'll talk smack about their arch rival. They'll spout off numbers and statistics to make themselves feel and/or sound important. (Newsflash to you males: we girls have NO idea what you're talking about and we don't care how many rushing yards So-And-So had this season vs. last season.)

Anyway, back to the experiment.

As I said, most people have a favorite team. And here's what I'd like to do: I'd like to take one of these rabid, hopelessly-devoted-to-(insert university here) fans and hook them up to sensors. Like the kind they use in the hospital to monitor your heart rate and the little things they stick on your head to see if your "pleasure centers" in your brain are being activated. Now, turn on your favorite team. It's sure to be a great game. Your Team is playing University of Somewhere. You get in your chair, while hooked up to all the sensors and electrodes, and you drink your beer and munch your chips and give your team 110% of your utmost devotion. Your team wins and you jump around with your buddies, slapping high fives as a means of expressing your jubilation at the 48-0 victory.

Now we have baseline readings.

Next week, you are asked to root for That Other Team. *gasp* How dare you ask me to do such a horrific task!!! No, no. It's all in the interest of science and progressing the medical field.

You sit in the same place you sat while cheering for Your Team. You are asked to cheer for That Other Team with the same amount of gusto and vigor and enthusiasm as you'd use for Your Team. Here's where the experiment would get interesting, in my opinion. Could you trick your brain into tapping into those same "pleasure centers" as they're used when cheering for your own team? Would your cardiac response be the same?

The following week, you're asked to submit to the testing once more. However, this week, you're asked to watch two teams who you have no emotional ties to whatsoever. They'd likely be out-of-conference teams without huge stats or heavy media coverage. This time, you're asked to pick whichever team you'd like to cheer for and are again asked to cheer for them with that same enthusiasm. This time, your team loses. What's the neurological response? What's the cardiac response?

I shared this with a friend the other day and she said it'd be unlikely that we'd find anyone willing to betray their own team at this time of year. She's probably right, but I still think it'd be interesting to see how my little "experiment" would work out.

It's all in the interest of science, right? Hey, maybe they should hook me up to those sensors and see if they can pinpoint what makes me such a weirdo. ; )

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don't be scared, be smart!

Most women nowadays are wimps.

No, wait, that came out wrong. What I meant to say is that most women nowadays are scared.


Wait, this one will work:

Most women nowadays are mostly uneducated and are just doing what society and their friends tell them to do.

There. How's that? Are ya mad at me yet?

A vast majority of today's pregnant population are choosing to have c-sections, to have labor induced by their doctor, or to have a pain-free birth with the aid of any number of pharmaceutical interventions.

Newsflash: giving birth is a completely natural process and should be treated as such. Birth has only become a "medical event" in the past 75 years. I believe we've spent too long listening to a doctor or hospital tell us how we should deliver our most precious gifts instead of listening to our own body tell us how we should give birth. Our bodies are designed to give birth and, if we are paying attention, they give us many, many cues to tell us when it's time for the baby to be born.

Some of you are likely thinking, "Well, it's my RIGHT to choose to have a c-section or be induced! It's my body and my birth story and I'll do it however I want!" To that I say, "Yes, you're absolutely correct. It is your right. But it's also your right to be educated about what you're doing to your body and to know the potential side-effects it can have both on you and your newborn baby." Some of you may say that you trust your doctor and medical team implicitly and will do whatever they say because they know what's best. After all, they've done this hundreds of times and they have extensive medical training on how to birth a baby.

If I only knew then what I know now...

If I knew in 2001 and in 2004 what I know now, then Slick would not have been born via c-section. Looking back, I'm certain that I was not in true labor when I went to the hospital. I mis-read some signs of labor and went to the hospital where I was put on a monitor, was poked and prodded, was "stripped" (some of you will know what that means), all followed by a promise of labor-inducing drugs the next morning (more than 12 hours later.) The pitocin was promised at 6 AM the following morning. Sometime around 2 PM (a mere eight hours later, mind you) the drip was started. What followed was the most excruciating pain I've ever experienced. Now, before you say, "Labor is supposed to hurt, dummy! That's why it's called labor!" I have to tell you that my other two births were natural, vaginal deliveries with absolutely no drug intervention whatsoever. The contractions I had during natural childbirth were nothing compared to the ones that were brought on by the pitocin. The pitocin contractions were horrible. Not too long after the pitocin was proving to be ineffective, a different drug was given to stop them. Relief. Or so I thought. Next thing I know, the doctor is hovering over me telling me that Slick's heart rate is in the 70s and we were headed for an emergency c-section NOW.

It. Was. Awful.

I truly believe that if I'd been more knowledgeable and educated about the process, then I wouldn't have had to suffer through that failed induction and then the c-section. If I'd known then what I know now, I'd have had him naturally just like I'd had his big sister.

No one ever hears the good birthing stories. For years and years, we've been inundated with the worst of the worst birth stories. "I was in labor for 30 hours!" "It hurt!" "I'll never do that again!" "Gimme the drugs!" "You're crazy to do it without drugs or an epidural!" We hear that sort of thing all. the. time. We seldom hear of a good, positive birthing experience. I'm here to tell you that it IS possible to have a positive birthing experience, and to have a positive one that's *gasp* dare I say it, drug-free. It is possible to push the baby out without medical intervention, contrary to what society and our doctors would have us believe.

Honestly, it's not that's bad. You can do it. Go do some reading and educate yourself. Here are a few places to get you started:

Monday, August 2, 2010

For Anna Lee

My granddaddy had a little sister named Anna Lee. The story I've always heard is that she was playing in the yard one Sunday afternoon and fell on a tree stump. She had an infection set up in the wound and passed away that Thursday. I've always had an odd, sort of sentimental feeling about this great aunt of mine whom I never met. I've often wondered what sort of little girl she was, whether or not she was book smart or was the type of girl who wouldn't let a little boy mess with her. She was born in 1920 and died in 1927. She was just a little girl.

A cousin of mine found a poem that was written by her mother, who was Anna Lee's older sister. The poem was written by my great aunt Ruth after the death of her little sister. The poem was written on March 10, 1927. It's called "The Little Arm Chair". Yet another glimpse into her short life.

The Little Arm Chair

My eyes were caught to an object over there
In the corner of the room sat a little arm chair.
My heart grew heavy it was hard to bare (sic)
As I thought of the little maiden who once sat there.

Ten days of March had gone
When the death angel come (sic) to our home
She won't need the arm chair anymore
For she's gone to be an angel on the other shore.

There is a grave over yonder
But she's not there
I wonder if she sees us
By her little arm chair.

There is a vacancy in our home
Since little sister has gone
But nothing seems so bare
As the little arm chair over there.

It seem (sic) that I can see her
With the angel on heavenly stair
As I sit here so lonely
By her little arm chair.

By my great aunt Ruth 1927

Continue to rest peacefully on that lush green hillside, sweet Anna Lee. I'll see you for sure one of these days.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I've spent the last three weeks feeling pretty much every emotion a human being can feel. Anger, heartache, disbelief, sorrow, being utterly stunned, terror, fury, sadness, despair, uncertainty, betrayal, abandoned, depression. And those are just the ones which I can immediately and readily identify.

Conversely, I have also felt intense gratitude, relief, joy, elation, and finally, joy once again.

The bad sure seems to outweigh the good here. But, I'm learning to see the good in things, in situations, and in people again.

For whatever reason, I haven't been able to blog about what happened 22 days ago. Maybe it would make it too real and would send me careening back into all those earlier emotions again. I did write down what happened so I'd have a vivid record, but I put it within the confines of another internet forum where I feel safe.

Twenty two days ago, our house was struck by lightning. It caught on fire. Our belongings were mostly spared, excusing my washer and dryer. However, we had to vacate the place we called home for the past 19 months and will have to move to another house. It's been extraordinarily difficult at times to try and see anything positive or good from your house catching fire. You ask yourself "WHY?!" a half-million times and still don't have a good answer. I may never get an answer this side of heaven as to why my world got rocked so violently that afternoon. All I know is that every cloud (even the ones with lightning inside!) has a silver lining.

The past three weeks have allowed me to take inventory of the things and people who matter most to me and my family. Various people have helped in ways I never could have imagined. And that has led to the healing, and eventually, normalcy that I'm beginning to feel. I don't want to name names for fear I'll leave someone out. I just want you to know that I'm immensely thankful for things that have happened, both tangible and intangible.

I'm starting to feel like myself again, and it feels nice.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Internet: It's Better in Person

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I haven’t really felt like I’ve had a lot to say or a lot going on, though.

Now, I have a tale to tell that involves a mutual love of spelling, grammar and those strangers you meet over the internet who turn out to be real, regular, everyday people just like yourself.

Back in September 2007, I stumbled upon a little website called I joined and began to “meet” people. After a while, I began to run into the same people over and over again and started to see them as regular moms like myself. Struggling with potty training, bottle-feeding, sleep deprivation, etc. But, beneath the mom façade, there were real people, some of whom I found loved the same types of things I did, and still do.

Cafemom is composed of thousands of little groups that speak to a wide variety of interests. I happened to type “spell check” into their search box and was directed to a group where the other moms had an affinity for proper spelling and grammar just as I do. I began to get to know the ladies within that group and we eventually developed a several friendships. We began calling each other by our own real, legal names instead of our screen-names. I got closer to a couple of ladies than I did to others.

Eventually, I found myself getting a little bored with that particular group and decided to leave it. A few months later, a different group was formed with many of the same ladies from my spell check group, but the group’s focus was friendship and the bond that many had developed with others.

I’ve been a member of that offshoot group for about 14 months now. Several of the women have grown very close, and some talk on the phone almost daily. We text each other, feel each other’s happiness and hurts and call on each other in times of crisis. We rejoice in the birth of a friend’s newborn child and we cry and hurt with and for one another when one of us has a hard time.

I had to say all that so I can tell you what I did yesterday; to lay some groundwork, so to speak.

I’m writing this blog post as we cruise down Interstate 80 in Iowa. Yesterday morning, we woke up in Chicago and headed towards Davenport, IA. Two years ago, I had no business in Davenport. Now, I have an honest to goodness friend who lives there.

You see, one of the very first women I met in that spell check group lives in Davenport. I sent her a text a few weeks ago and asked if she and her family would be around on June 22, and, if so, would it be okay if we dropped in for a face-to-face meet up. She replied with a very exuberant “YES!” and we made our plans.

We arrived at her house around 5:45 and hopped out of the van. I was busy unbuckling The Noob from her carseat when I heard, “I see you!!!” I stopped what I was doing and turned and looked. And then, I ran to my friend. There was much squealing and giggling and “You’re really real!” and then more squealing and hugging. Oh, there was tons of hugging! *squeeze-squeeze-squeeeeeeeeeze* [more screaming and jumping up and down]

It was even better than I imagined it in my head.

After the initial screaming and jumping up and down ceased, we began introducing our children and spouses to each other. I’ve seen pictures of her girls online. They’re gorgeous girls. But they’re even better in person. They’re smart and witty and just downright fun kids to be around. Our husbands sat and talked and drank beers and got along like they’d known each other for years. She and I talked and giggled and talked and giggled some more, and had the intermittent pause to perform motherly duties such as changing stinky diapers. The kids ate their pizza and played in the yard like they’d known each other for their entire lives. They all changed into their swimsuits and hopped into the pool. They swam until the moon peeked over the tops of the trees and then they hopped out and chased lightning bugs and caught them in plastic cups. The adults continued to visit and laugh and share stories. The men shared their tales of stupid customers as they both have many years of retail experience. We petted their cats and made fun of their dog. Brinkley the Wonder Dog was afraid of King Waffle for some strange reason. He kept watching King Waffle out the dining room window and whenever King Waffle would stand up, Brinkley would run away. We managed to get one picture of the two of them together. See?

Later, Brinkley was let out to do his business and had to pass King Waffle to get back to his kennel. He was walking as he approached King Waffle, but decided to hustle past and got all skittish and lost traction as he scrambled past his feet. Everyone got tickled all over again and had another good laugh before we had to say goodbye for the night. We hugged each other goodnight and made plans to meet for breakfast.

This morning, I woke up with a spring in my step, knowing that I’d see my friend again soon.

We met up for breakfast at Village Inn {aka The Village Idiot, as King Waffle calls it}. We giggled and gabbed once again as we ate our French toast. It was relaxing and enjoyable to spend just a few moments more with her and her sweet family.

I gotta say, I’ve always known she was just one of those people who is unique and just genuinely fun to be around. Her personality shines through in her online persona and now that I’ve seen her and hugged her and broken bread with her and her family, I can say that I am blessed to know her. She is one of a kind and my “sister from another mister” as I told her as we giggled last night.

Eriak, I’ll definitely be stopping back by. Thanks for the pizza and beer. Thanks for letting the kids swim. Thanks for opening your home to a bunch of “strangers” from Alabama. But most of all, thank you for being my friend. I hug you nao.

See ya online, RikiChick. ; )

Friday, May 14, 2010

Star Wars, Hillbilly style

I wrote this about 18 months ago. I have a weird knack for re-wording song lyrics and making them into something silly. (a la Weird Al) And no, this has nothing to do with my inability to understand song lyrics. (Some of you know my "Hot Cereal" story.) At any rate, here's a little humor for your day. It's been several posts since I've injected any humor and I wanted to share this. I was rather proud of this one.

Please sing along to the tune from "The Beverly Hillbillies":

Come listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed

Poor X-Wing flyer let the fame go to his head

Then one day he was soarin' through the sky

And Leia showed up and caught his eye

Skywalker, that is. Ol' Luke's baby sister.

Well the next thing you know Leia's robes are gettin' tight

Jed's hidin' out with the Ewoks every night

Says, "Naboo is the place I oughta be

Then I won't have little Vaders chasin' after me!"

*insert twangy banjo solo*

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not me

This is a copy of what I shared with my MOPS group this morning. I didn't mean to get all misty while talking, but I did. I think some of them did, too. I hope you'll enjoy my mini-testimony.

"I shouldn’t be standing here. If I were not a Christian, I probably truly would not be standing here. I’d probably be dead. But, nevertheless, here I am.

I shouldn’t be standing here for a few reasons. First, I probably should have been a statistic and should have died from harsh cancer treatments. One Sunday afternoon, twelve years ago, I really did almost die.

Secondly, I shouldn’t be standing here because I was never supposed to be a mother. I was never supposed to be able to have children. I was never even supposed to have another period due to the previously mentioned cancer treatments.

Third, I shouldn’t be standing here because back in 2006 I moved away from a 14 month stay in Alabama and I was NOT moving back to Alabama under any circumstances.

However, God is running my show and saw to do things a little differently than what I expected. I never expected to be diagnosed with cancer just after my 22nd birthday; I’d only been married for six months. I cannot fathom having to go through that whole ordeal without my faith in God and without countless prayers offered up on my behalf. People I will never know this side of Heaven prayed for me; some even donated blood for me. Specifically for me. Without my faith, I’d most likely be six feet under.

I never fathomed I’d be a part of a group of moms such as this. After all, remember that part about not being able to have kids? My body went into premature menopause for about a year during and after my chemotherapy. I had to take estrogen and vividly remember standing in front of the fan at work because I kept having hot flashes. I also vividly remember my doctor calling me at work one day and telling me that horrible news. That I’d never be able to have a child. You shouldn’t have to hear those words when you’re a month shy of turning 24. However, once again, God was in control and did things in His own time. Now, I have not one child, but three. They’re known to some as the Miracle Babies because it truly is a miracle that they’re even here. What’s more, they’re perfectly healthy. No defects, no mental issues, no abnormalities. I even had another confirmation of God’s grace just this past week with my oldest. My sweet Holly was tested for the gifted program and passed the test. If that’s not some sort of testament to God’s grace and healing capability, I don’t know what is. After all, that’s why we named her Grace. Holly Grace. It’s only by His grace that she is here at all.

Lastly, the part about even being in Alabama. We were moved to Albertville in January 2005 and stayed there for 14 months until Cal’s job moved us again. In hindsight, we probably should have just stayed where we were. In Alabama. But this Georgia Peach was eager to get back to that precious red clay. We said then that we were done living in Alabama and had no desire to go back ever again. In September 2008, we were presented an offer to come here to Birmingham. We hemmed and hawed and went back and forth because we didn’t have to go anywhere at all. The choice was ours. Less than a month later, I got an email that informed me we had 30 days to vacate. The owners of the house we rented were leaving Texas and coming back to their house in Georgia. We didn’t have to go to anywhere specific, we just couldn’t stay where we were. We had been praying and asking God, “What do we do?! Should we stay here in metro Atlanta, or should we just try Birmingham? At least it’s more metropolitan than where we lived before.” That email was our glowing neon sign to get the heck out of dodge. God knew He wanted us here. I wondered how we’d find a house on such short notice. As it turned out, my cousin knew someone that had a house for sale but was willing to rent it out to a decent family. My cousin vouched for us and we moved in less than two weeks later. No one but God could have orchestrated all that.

So, you see, I really shouldn’t be standing here. But, I am. And it’s all due to letting go and letting God run my life and the lives of my family."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Clowns to the left, jokers to the right. Here I am...

...stuck in the middle.

(Ha. Now you get to have that running through your head all day.)

Seriously, though. I feel sort of stuck in the middle right now. I'm not what I used to be, but I'm not yet where I want to be. Most of you know that I started a weight loss effort last July. (No, I'm not calling it a "weight loss journey" because it's overused and trite at this point.) I set out to lose 75 pounds. Not because I could, but because I needed to lose 75 pounds. As of this morning, I'm still hanging out in the mid-40s. I've lost between 43-45 lbs, depending on when I weigh in. I won't deny that it's an accomplishment; quite the contrary. If you'd told me a year ago I'd be 45 lbs lighter and that most of my clothes would be too big, I'd have scoffed at you and given you a "WHATEVER!", most likely while holding up my thumbs and index fingers in the shape of a 'W'. However, I did do it. So, that's where I'm stuck in the middle.

I am stuck in the middle because of another factor. While doing my workouts at the YMCA, I see lots of people. I see different women who are different shapes and sizes. I see women who are much larger than I am and who probably resemble my own shape just a year ago. I also see the ones who are obviously very fit and trim and muscular. I am neither. I'm okay with being in the middle for the time being, though, because seeing both "classes" of women reminds me and motivates me to keep pressing on towards my goal. I see the larger women and it reminds me that I do not want to go back to where I was. I see the smaller, more fit women and it reminds me and motivates me to keep going. There's one lady in particular that I watch. She's rather petite, but she is fit and trim and muscular. She will get on the treadmill and R U N like a gazelle for an hour without ever slowing down or breaking her stride. She gets on the elliptical and pedals as if she's providing power for the entire building. I used to sort of look up to her and admire her. I nicknamed her "The Overachiever" in my head. Recently, though, I saw her doing one of her marathon elliptical sessions and watched her chug a Red Bull while doing so. My "hero" fell in my eyes and suddenly I realized that I want to do things the right way. The healthy way. I don't want to have to drink a Red Bull to buzz me through my workout. To help me clean the house, yes. But not to make me go longer on the treadmill.

For the time being, I am stuck in the middle. But, I'll keep pressing on until I lose this last 25 pounds. I'm more than halfway there and if I've made it this far, I can make it the rest of the way and not be stuck in the middle any longer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Settling in...after 18 months.

I've been quite the social butterfly this week.

And I have to say that it's about dang time.

We moved here to The 'Ham back in November 2008. That's nearly 18 months ago. I know it takes a while to get to know people and to finally begin calling a place "home", but I was beginning to get a little discouraged. A lot of times, if you didn't grow up in a certain community, or if your granddaddy isn't on the city council, then you just don't have an ice cube's chance in hell of ever fitting in or having people bother to get to know you. We've lived in a couple of places where I felt like this. Where people were smiley and welcoming on the exterior but they never made any effort to spend any time getting to know you and your family. I seem to have finally found some sort of pinhole in the space-time continuum here and I am starting to get to know some lovely people and their families.

Recently (in an effort to further my own cause) I coordinated a dinner outing for my fellow Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) members. I'll shamelessly admit that my initial motive was to make a new friend for myself, but also hoping it would foster budding relationships between other members. This past Tuesday was our third outing. I believe that, as a result of these outings, I've started making a new buddy.

Then, all of a sudden, I've been inundated with invitations. Wow. I gotta say that I'm a little blown over.

Tuesday was Mom's Night Out at Mellow Mushroom with the fine ladies of my MOPS group. I laughed and giggled and he-heed and ha-haed until my cheeks ached. I believe that as we spend more time together where we can laugh and cut up and share stories, we'll grow and develop friendships that will go with us no matter where life takes us.

Friday night, I went to a different sort of gathering. The volunteer coordinator for Poodle and Slick's school organized a get-together for a new Bunco group. There was yummy, munchy-style food (ohmyword, the buffalo chicken dip and the baked potato casserole were positively to. die. for.) and there were several tons of laughs. It was almost as if we were tapping into that long-lost teenager that still dwells deep within the recesses of our memory. There was giggling and snickering and peals of laughter that can only happen when there is mutual level of comfort that's shared by all present. It didn't hurt to have us all dressed up like white trash (on purpose, mind you) to serve as a sort of ice-breaker for our initial meetup, either.

While I was at the Bunco thing on Friday night, a guy from our Sunday school class called me (twice) and wanted to know if my family would like to join his family in an afternoon of grilling out and watching the A-Day game. He called first thing Saturday morning to make sure I'd gotten his message and to see if we were going to head their way. Sure enough, I grabbed some lettuce, a few tomatoes and a gallon of tea from Publix and headed over there early Saturday afternoon. We made hamburgers and homemade dip and cookies and watched the football game. All in all, it was a lovely day and I was glad to spend it with adults rather than sitting here in The Yellow House.

Today, we got to go to church as a family. King Waffle had a (rare) Sunday off. I was glad to have him sitting beside me in Sunday school and in worship service this morning. That was unusual in and of itself so it made the day seem a little more special. We capped it off with yet another social interaction: after-church lunch with a different couple from Sunday school. It was totally impromptu and unplanned; King Waffle just ran over to their truck as they were getting their kids loaded and said, "Hey, wanna grab a quick bite?" They obliged and we had yet another chance to get to know our peers just a little better.

I am exceedingly grateful for all the opportunities I've had this week. I could only dream about this type of schedule in some of the other places we've lived. Like I said earlier, some places were just "closed" and didn't appear to want/need any new social members, some were just plain snooty and stuck-up, some places seemed to be filled with people just like us who wanted to meet new people but just didn't know where to start. I'm glad we're now in a community where people are willing to reach out to others and to not only make them feel welcome, but to include them in their plans and in the inner workings of their day to day lives. It's how friends are made. I'm hoping any one of these new relationships will blossom into deep and lasting friendship(s).

After 18 months, it's about time. I'm ready to include people in my life and have them include me in theirs. If I've spent any time with you this week, and you know who you are, I'd like to offer you a very heartfelt and sincere "thank you" for making an effort to include me/us. I really, really appreciate your efforts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bless you!

The following occurred between the hours of 3:00 AM and 4:00 AM.
(It sounds more dramatic if you read it like Keifer Sutherland does at the opening of the hit show "24".)

The Noob: Mooooommmmmy...I neeeeee cuh-vers. (covers)

Me, quite groggily I might add: Huh? What do you want?

Noob: I need mah cuh-vers.

Me: Well, reach down and pull them up and over you.

Noob: No, Mommy. I want you do it.

I can see this is all leading up to me having to get out of bed whether I want to or not. I oblige and throw my own covers off and take the three steps over to the crib. I cover her back up and get back in bed.

Five minutes later, the conversation begins again with the same subject matter.

Another ten minutes go by and I'm up for the third time getting her "cuh-vers". I also grab my flashlight to find her obviously missing Binky. If that hole were plugged up then maybe she'd shut up and go to sleep.

I located the Binky on the other side of her crib and plugged her up. I made sure Bunny was snuggled in tight and that her "cuh-vers" were covering All Parts That Might Get Cold.

The next thing I heard was not a plea to be covered up again, but a series of three sneezes. *pa-chew*.....*ka-cue*......*ah...ah...ah...aaaahhhhhhhh-CHOO!*

I thought, "Man, I gotta get some Zyrtec in her when we get up."

The next thing I heard sent me into a silent giggle fit at 3:47 AM.

She blessed herself. That tiny voice said, "Bless you!"

I'm glad I didn't wake King Waffle. He might have wanted to have me committed for lying in bed giggling at ten minutes 'til four in the morning.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


April 15, 1912.

April 15, 1997.

Both days hold special meaning for me. Today's blog is broken into two very distinct events that have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I'll start with the earlier of the two.

On April 14, 1912, late at night, the largest ocean-going vessel ever constructed by the hands of man struck an iceberg. The ship, as you well know, was called the Titanic. You know the whole story by now. It hit an iceberg, faltered and eventually succumbed to the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. It was deemed "unsinkable". It was a modern marvel. It was the height of luxury at the time. A first-class stateroom was priced somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000. By today's standards, it equates to somewhere around $50K. *low whistle* Dang. That's fancy.

I can't really tell you why I hold such a strong fascination for the Titanic. If there's a documentary-style show on The Discovery Channel or TLC, I'm almost guaranteed to drop what I'm doing and sit down and watch it. Even if I've seen it before and even if there's only five minutes left in the program. It just fascinates me.

Upon her discovery in 1985, I was only 10. I can remember hearing about it on the news and on the radio at the time. Something someone said must have captivated my imagination at the time because it just lit something inside of me. About a month later I can remember being at one of my friend's houses and swimming. We decided to "play" Titanic. We took all the pool furniture and threw it in the pool and then had our own little "shipwreck". We had a hard time getting that cast iron furniture out of the deep end, by the way.

Back in November 2006, I had what I consider to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a traveling exhibit of artifacts that had been salvaged from the wreck site. It was tastefully done, in my opinion. There were dishes. There were musical instruments. There were very personal artifacts among the relics. Three portions of the display brought me to tears. Truly. (I was pregnant at the time so you can chalk it up to hormones if you like, but I believe I'd react the same way if I saw them this very moment.) The first thing at the very beginning of the exhibit is the bell. THE bell. It was suspended over a small circle of sand, out of reach of nerds like myself. The room was dimly lit and the only thing in the room was the bell. I turned the corner and saw the bell and began sucking my breath in as if I were having an asthma attack. I felt the tears well up and knew it was going to be an emotional journey. Later, a small glass case displayed three bejeweled chokers. One was a small, half-inch wide piece of silk ribbon which had three small diamond slides across it. Seeing that brought on full tears and sniffles. That choker necklace belonged to somebody. Someone packed that in their belongings. Was it a young girl? Perhaps a first-class debutante? Was it a second-class mother and this was among her finer possessions? Only God knows. Seeing relics such as that really bring the human element into the picture and remind you that all these things belonged to living, breathing, REAL people who were all important to somebody else.

My last tear-jerker moment was towards the end of the exhibit. There, in a large room, was a piece of the hull of the once-mighty Titanic. It was resting in sand, just like it did for all those years before discovery. It was suspended by cables to keep it upright. It was a large portion. The nerd in me knew that I positively HAD to touch it. I went around to the back side of the piece and leaned over as far as I could. Crap. I was three inches shy of touching history. I gave a loud "PSST!!!" to my mom and told her to hold my arm so I could lean in far enough. She obliged and I leaned over and felt electrified as soon as I made contact. The piece of history that excites me most was now a part of me, in a way. After running afoul of the law, I made my way around the the front of the piece and saw that there was a smaller piece trapped in a box with a hole in the top of it and it was perfectly legal to touch that piece. *insert sheepish grin here*

Over the years, I've become more enthralled with the human aspect of the whole ordeal. As I mentioned earlier, there were living, breathing people aboard this ship and they all mattered to someone. They were fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, nannies, maids, manservants, butlers, etc. Each person was unique and special.

Out of the 2,228 on board, only 705 survived. Many of them were women and children. 1,523 died. One thousand...five hundred...twenty three. That's about half as many as the number who perished in the WTC attacks on 9/11/01. At the time, it was as big a tragedy as 9/11 is to us today. Take a moment today and remember those who died on this day 98 years ago. Some drowned. Some froze to death from the frigid, 38ºF water temperature.

Today matters to me. Try to not make light of a tragedy, even if it was nearly 100 years ago.

Now, the latter.

April 15, 1997.

I sat in Dr. Bordoni's office and waited for my name to be called. I was put into a recliner and had a blanket over my legs to stay warm because they had to keep that room cold to minimize germs. This day was to be my first of many chemotherapy treatments. I was fine as they drew my labs and got me prepped. I was fine as they inserted my IV. I was fine as they went down a laundry list of things I could expect over the coming days. However, I came unglued (fell apart, broke down sobbing, freaked out for all my non-Southern readers) when the nurse started the machine and I saw the poison slowly creep down the plastic tubing that led to my arm. I saw that clear, potent elixir reach my arm and I positively lost. my. marbles. "OhmywordIamgettingchemo!" kept running through my head, along with, "This is really real. I have cancer." I broke down and started calling, quite loudly I might add, for my "mommy". Now, I hadn't called her mommy since I was about 12 or 13 and at the time I was 22 and had been recently married. I told the nurse that she needed to get my mommy NOW. I think she heard me from the waiting room though and came to my side. She and my husband sat with me as I got the course of drugs. We colored in coloring books. We sat and waited. We sucked on Jolly Ranchers and Lemonheads. Finally, after nearly two hours, we were done. April 15, 1997 was the start of a long, yet miraculous, journey for me and my entire family. It affected different people in different ways. I'm just glad I'm here today to be able to share it with all of you.

April 15 will always be significant to me. Now you know why. I'm a nerd and I'm a survivor. But, best of all, I'm just me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anatomy of a fit. By: Noob

Good morning, people of the world. I'm guest-blogging for my mommy today. I thought I'd take some time today and show everyone the proper way to pitch a fit. Far too many people of my size are doing it all wrong, and the problem needs to be rectified post haste. Observe.

First, you lie down in the floor and get flat on your back.

Next, roll around and writhe as if in some sort of pain.

Now is the time when you turn onto your side and begin actually crying, or at least make the strong effort to make them think you're crying.

This is the point where you want to show your face and make sure your parent knows you're in the utmost distress. It also helps to begin saying "MOMMY!!!" over and over and over again. If you're going for broke, make sure to sound like you've been possessed by many demons.

Next, roll onto your tummy and assume the "Woe is me" aka "Nobody loves me AT ALL!" posture.

Finally, make sure to get a few good floor kicks in before your mommy speaks sharp to you and tells you to dry it up and go find something to do.

I hope this has been an informative tutorial for any attempts to get your way with your own mommy and daddy. I'll return with more helpful hints in the future. Until then, I remain faithful to the cause of getting your own way.

Sippy Cup Toters, UNITE!

Noob : )

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rescue me!

I went to church yesterday and got something out of both the sunday school lesson and the sermon. A Sunday like that is a rarity for me and I walked out with a fresh feeling within my heart and soul. The end of the sermon was what got my wheels turning about this blog post. The preacher told a story about a little rescued greyhound somewhere across the pond in England. The little dog's name was Jasmine. Jasmine was found in a shed and was malnourished and had suffered abuse at the hands of a human being. She was mistreated and left for dead by someone not of her own species. She was likely taunted and made to feel horrible, both physically and mentally. A police officer found her and turned her over to a rescue society. The society aids in rehabilitating many animals, not just dogs. Jasmine was eventually rehabilitated and, very slowly, learned to trust human beings again. The society began searching for a home for Jasmine, but eventually they realized that Jasmine could do more good for them if she stayed there at the shelter. Jasmine "reached out" to other ailing animals and was sort of their ambassador. Below are some pictures of Jasmine. Most of the pictures feature species that naturally have no business being in close proximity to one another.

A rabbit and a greyhound?! Usually, a greyhound is chasing a fake rabbit around an oval track.

Foxes and hounds? *trumpet blast* Tally-HO! Not here. Jasmine helped bring the fox back to health.

There are a few other pictures featuring Jasmine with a fawn and then a "group shot" of Jasmine, two other mixed breed dogs, an owl, the fawn and the rabbit. By all laws of normalcy, this should have been a frenzy. Each breed has natural enemy tendencies towards the others. Jasmine was rescued and rehabilitated and shared the love and mercy she'd been shown with others.

Now, think about this.

I call myself a Christian. I was once locked in a shed (metaphorically speaking, of course). Satan had me locked away and was doing all sorts of horrible things to me, with me and through me. Then, one day, a one-man rescue society showed up and liberated me. He took one look at me and had pity and wanted nothing more than to make my situation better. He plucked me from that shed and took me in, cleaned me up and rehabilitated me. What's more, he offered to go into the shed and take my place.

The man who was the one-man rescue society is Jesus Christ. He will pull you out of the woodshed and give you a better life, much like the policeman and rescue society did for Jasmine. It's now my job to show that love that Christ showed me. Just like Jasmine did for all those other animals. They didn't look like her, walk like her, "talk" like her or have much in common with them at all. She still showed them love. As a Christian, we (I) should show the love of Christ to those who don't look like us, walk like us, talk like us, live like us, live where we live, etc. God loves all of us and wants to see each and every one of us "rehabilitated".

If you're a Christian, are you living in such a way that will help someone else to get rehabilitated? I challenge you to think about it, pray about it, and see how God would have you respond.

Show the love, brothers and sisters in Christ!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Car seats: they're not optional!!!

It's taken me a while to calm down enough where I could write sensibly about this topic. I'm not going to apologize for the subject matter, either, because I feel so strongly about this subject.

I have always been one of those car seat people. I have always used a size and age-appropriate seat for all three of my children. Imagine my horror when I witnessed a child just over one year of age riding in her mother's lap as she departed church a couple of weeks ago.

I was leaving church and happened to be parked next to someone I only causally know. We say "Hi!" when we pass in the hallways and that's pretty much the extent of it. I've never even been introduced to her husband. She walked up to the passenger side of her car with her child on her hip. I smiled and nodded through my closed window because I was on the phone with King Waffle. I watched her open the front passenger door and sit down with the child on her lap in the front seat. I cut my eyes to the back seat and didn't even see a car seat in the vehicle. I stared in utter disbelief as her husband backed out of the parking spot and proceeded to drive away. All I could do was begin yelling at King Waffle, "Oh my word, they're driving away!!! They have their baby IN THE FRONT SEAT!!!" I had a short, fleeting thought that maybe they drove separately that day and that he was driving her around to her vehicle. The next thing I saw just floored me. They got out into four-lane traffic and still had the baby in the front seat. I can't even say for sure that I saw mom buckle her own seatbelt. I started towards home, completely stunned. Then, my conscience got the best of me and I made a u-turn. We attend a fairly large church and it requires that law enforcement direct traffic after church lets out. I pulled into the turn lane and motioned for the officer to come over to my car. He stepped over and I began to tell him what I'd just witnessed. He seemed concerned as well. I gave him their last name and a description of their car and the direction they'd headed. I later found out that the couple lives less than a quarter mile away from the church and that they were most likely already home by the time I reported them. However, that doesn't excuse the fact that the child was unsecured. The child is young enough that she needs to be in a rear-facing convertible car seat. I don't care how far you're traveling, a child needs to be in a car seat. They're made for a reason. They're made and designed to keep your child safe while traveling. It's likely that the car they were traveling in never exceeded 20 MPH that day. But, what if someone had rear-ended them? What if he'd had a momentary lapse in attention and he rear-ended someone else? In the first situation, it could cause the baby to hit the dash. It might not hurt an adult, but it could really hurt a baby. In the latter situation, it could cause the airbag to deploy and really cause some serious damage. I really want to confront this girl, but I want to do it in a loving way. I want her to never, ever, EVER have her child unsecured while riding in any vehicle. I don't want to be sitting in the service one Sunday morning and hear the preacher say, "We need to remember the ________ family. They were in a crash this week and their baby is in ICU with extensive injuries because she wasn't in a car seat."

Car seats are there for a reason. There are car seat laws for a reason. Both are to keep children safe. I still don't know how to approach her. I don't like confrontation and don't want to make things awkward for any future encounters. The bottom line is that I want her to keep her child safe. I don't want her to suffer the heartache of having to bury her precious daughter.

If I knew then what I know now, I would still have Noob in a rear-facing position even though she's three years old and 30 pounds. I would have rear-faced all of them until they were 35 pounds. Noob will stay in a five-point harness until she will not fit into one anymore. Poodle and Slick are in boosters; Slick still uses the high-back booster to help the seatbelt fit him as it should to offer him maximum protection.

If you're unsure about your state's laws, I urge you to check them out. You can find your state's laws at If your child will fit in a child safety seat, PLEASE use one. Find a local agency who can install the seat for you where it will offer the most crash protection. There are people who are certified car seat technicians at most police and fire stations. If none are there, they will be able to direct you to a place that will help you find the correct seat and make sure it's safely and securely installed in your vehicle.

I hope the cops found their house that day and gave them some sort of warning or a ticket for not having that sweet baby in her car seat. I hope I'll never see it again.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Thirty-six months

For the third time in my life, I am charged with the care and feeding of a three-year-old. Miss Noob turned three years old at 8:03 CST this morning. She's been positively delightful on most days. She's always had pretty much everyone she meets wrapped around her tiny little pinky finger. I think Paw Paw has had the worst time with it; after all, we named Noob after Paw Paw's mama. And after King Waffle's mama, too. At any rate, it's like she has some sort of magic coming off her most of the time. It's like in a cartoon where you see little glowing twinkles around a character and it just encompasses their aura and their being. This is what it's like when you're around Noob. There's just something about her.

The day she was born was not supposed to be the day she was born. She wasn't "due" until March 15th. But, due to a prior c-section with Slick, all the physicians I encountered throughout my pregnancy felt that another c-section would be the safest course of action. I begged and pleaded with anyone who would give me the time of day to please, please, PLEASE not make me have another c-section. I had some post-partum complications and wound up getting a pretty bad infection in my incision. Not to mention that it just HURTS. However, no one would hear of such nonsense and I was scheduled to be sliced and diced on Monday, March 5th, 2007.

On February 24th, I knew that I only had a little over a week before she would be here. I set out that day with a list of things I needed to replenish my baby gear, the most important of which was a car seat for her to ride home in. I'd given my old one away and now needed a new one. I went to the mall and walked and walked and walked and then walked some more to acquire everything I needed. Then I hit Babies R Us and did more walking and shopping and lifting. Then I hit Target and did still more walking and shopping. I went home and crashed because I was so exhausted. I was 36 weeks, 5 days at this point. I woke up Sunday and had that hurty, crampy feeling. I truly just credited it to the previous day's shopping expedition. I went all through Sunday and did okay. Later that night, we were scheduled to take the hospital tour because I'd never delivered at this particular hospital. We show up and take the tour and all the while I had a nagging pain that just wouldn't quit. Nothing major but it was just enough to make you remember it was there. I asked one of the nurses if she could check me out before we left and she informed me that I'd have to be admitted to be checked. I told her that I thought I'd be fine and we headed home.

We got home and tucked Poodle and Slick into bed. We turned in for the night and I woke up on Monday, February 26th at about 5 AM with what had to be contractions. They were coming about every five minutes. I was sitting in the recliner, timing them, and King Waffle came out to check on me. I said I thought I'd be okay and he went to lay back down. Just a few minutes later, I walked into the bedroom and said something I said when we were getting ready for Poodle's birth: "Let's just go. The worst they can do to us is send us back home."

At this point, I have to mention the fact that it was Monday morning. In metro Atlanta, Georgia. Monday morning + rush hour + Georgia Hwy 400 = horrible traffic nightmare. I told King Waffle "let's just go" at 6:45 AM.

We got loaded up and started our 23 mile journey to the hospital. Around mile 15, the traffic gets THICK because some pretty heavily congested streets are all trying to get into that traffic nightmare as well. We had been stop and go pretty much the whole way there. When we got to this point it was more stop and less go and by this time my contractions were about two minutes apart. It took us a solid hour to travel 23 miles.

We finally arrived at the hospital and I was told to "sit in those chairs and wait" while KW got me all registered and admitted. Well, "sit in those chairs and wait" turned into "get her a wheelchair NOW!" after about three minutes of me sitting there groaning. I was put into a little prep room while the nurse took some history. I felt more relaxed to be laying down and could actually converse fairly normally. While KW waited in the hallway with Poodle and Slick, she helped me get changed and quizzed me to make sure I wasn't being beaten at home or anything like that. When she was all done she had me lie back down and started trying to get my IV going. She invited KW and the kids back into the room. The doctor on call poked his head in the room and says, "Hey there! We're gonna get you all taken care of around 10:30. I've got three other sections I gotta do before you and then we're gonna squeeze you in." He was gone as quickly as he came and I just looked at KW and said, "I ain't gonna make it to 10:30." No sooner had I said that, a BIG, HARD contraction happened. Up until this point, I'd been relatively calm and just groaned through the pain. This one made me really yell, so much so that I scared the kids and they were ready to exit in a hurry. Nice nurse stops trying to get my IV going and starts doing a check to see how far along I am. She yells to the other nurse, "She's a nine and her bag of waters is bulging!!!" No sooner than KW got them out the door did another one come and I knew before it happened what it would bring: *sploosh* my water broke.

Nice Nurse grabbed a sheet and threw it over my legs, barked at Other Nurse to help NOW!, and we busted through the door like we were on fire. We went tearing down the hall like we were on a bobsled team! They got me to a room and parked the bed next to a delivery bed. The next words I heard were a little unbelievable and almost made me laugh: "We need you to scoot from this bed onto that bed." *scoff* Yeah right. However, something in me summoned the strength and courage to scoot over and I did. No sooner than I slid into place did I get that urge to push. I pushed once...*bloop* head out! I pushed again...*bloop* It's a girl!!!

My next words were, "Can someone please go get my husband?" A few moments later, Nice Nurse showed up with KW and my other two children. There we were, one big happy family.

I am still grateful to this very day for being able to give birth naturally and in the precise manner I wanted to do so. I don't know if I'll ever have another child, but I'll fight just as hard to have that next one the same way I had this one. Don't be afraid of letting your body do what it was designed to do. Don't be afraid to be in just a little bit of pain for a very short while. It's more like pressure than pain, really. Experiencing natural childbirth is a blessing and a gift and I truly believe everyone should make the effort to at least attempt to give birth as God intended. Without drugs (which can slow labor down), without epidurals (which, if given incorrectly, could paralyze you), without anything to hinder the body's natural processes of delivering a little piece of Heaven right into your waiting arms.

I love my sweet Noob. I hope she lives to be 103. Happy Birthday, my darling!

Here she is then, just moments old:

And here she is now:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


It's snowing. Again. Granted, it's not the snow that "sticks" but it is nonetheless snow. It's fluffy, white precipitation falling from the sky. It's gotten to the point of annoying and barely pretty anymore. I think it's safe to say that I've seen more snow this winter than I have in any other in my entire 35 years of existence. Just this morning I put the following as my Facebook status:

"Dear God, I think I speak for the majority when I say we are tired of the snow and the cold weather. Please send Spring and warmth, minus Tornado Season, soon. Love, Jfer"

Within an hour, I had four "likes" and three comments that agreed with my sentiments.

However, I have to step back and re-evaluate now.

God knows what we need, and the length of time we will need it. I'm sick of seeing the snow and feeling the cold temperatures chill my skin. I bet the Israelites were sick of having manna fall to the earth every night for all those years too. But, God knew that's what they needed for that season of their life. I imagine some 35 year old woman waking up thousands of years ago, rolling her eyes and sighing, "Again?! Really?!" Much like I did just an hour ago. God knows we need the winter to appreciate the heat and warmth and green and new life that is soon to come.

I'm sure that when we get way down in July and it's 100º F outside and there's just no release from the heat's grip, that I'll wish it were snowing. Just to have that relief for a bit. However, I'm learning a lesson this morning about patience and time and everything happening precisely when it should. In a month, snow will likely be a distant memory and we may have even had a few days where shorts and flip-flops would be entirely justified. I'll try to remind myself of God's perfect timing for every season, in every season.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I give up!

Today is the second day of the Lenten season.

Over the past weekend, and up until (Fat) Tuesday, I contemplated what I might give up or commit to do for the next forty days. Things like, "I could give up Starbucks," or "I could commit to exercising four days a week without fail," or "I could [fill in the blank]" ran through my head in a never-ending stream of nonsense. While I was waiting in the car rider line Tuesday morning, some of Alabama's finest licensed drivers showed up and were in the car rider line with me. At the same time, a lady was on the radio talking about her own Lenten decision. She talked about how one year she gave up sweet tea for Lent and how, at the time, she thought it was a big sacrifice. She then went on to say how stupid and selfish she felt several years later because Christ had given His very life for her and all she could give up was her tea. This statement made my wheels start turning.

At that point, I realized something I could do that would be beneficial to myself as well as help me be more Christ-like. I decided I will quit using words that are not nice words (read: ugly words). They do nothing extra to convey my point within a sentence. They do not make me sound lady-like. Most of all, they do not sound like words that Christ himself would use.

As I mentioned earlier, I was in the car-rider line when I had my epiphany. Just moments prior, I'd been cut off by a lady in a blue Camry. My immediate reaction was not what it should have been. I think I yelled something to the effect of, "What are you doing, you freakin' moron?! I was totally in front of you! Idiot!"

I'm able to convey my words, thoughts, emotions, etc. through this medium without using those colorful adjectives and four-letter flourishes. So, why can't I transfer that to my real life? The one my family sees. The one my kids see. The one my friends at church see. Who knows, they might see me in traffic and, in an instant, change their entire opinion. God may be grooming and nurturing a relationship and I could ruin it by my own impatience.

So far, I've done well. I'm looking at this as a small step on the way to being a better Christian and just a better human-being. Everyone deserves a kind word, whether they can hear it or not.

What can you do to better yourself over the next forty days? I challenge you to not just think about it, but to pray about it and ask God to show you what HE would have you do.

Friday, February 12, 2010


It's been one of those weeks. My inner snob has re-surfaced and I saw something I just adored.

Last Wednesday, on my birthday, I went out riding around and window shopping with Fancy and The Boy. We stopped in the Apple store because The Boy and myself are Mac nerds. We poked around the store and I happened across the cutest little protective case you've ever seen. My inner snob got a little rush of energy when I saw it had the name Kate Spade emblazoned across the front of the box. *drool* Do want.

I picked it off the peg immediately and began fondling the package. I've been wanting/needing a new cover for my iPhone for a couple of months now and this one totally meets and even exceeds my expectations. I turned the package over to check out the price and was pleasantly surprised. It didn't cost any more than some of the other, very basic, very Plain Jane cases I'd previously had my eye on. Then, upon closer inspection, I saw that it was only for the iTouch. I found the nearest Mac Geek and asked him if this case would fit my phone. I was sad when he told me that it would not fit because the phones are just a little thicker than the iTouch. I left. *sigh*

When I got home, I saw where you could get them online. However, I'm an "I want it in my hands now" kind of girl. I don't do much shopping online because I relish the feeling of a fresh "kill" when I shop. I figured if they were available in the Mac store online, then it'd just be a matter of time before they would be available in the retail stores.

Saturday, I was having issues with making my phone sync up with our laptop. I just couldn't figure out what I needed to do to make things right again. I scheduled an appointment at the Genius Bar for Wednesday. When I got to the store on Wednesday, I saw the accessory area had been rearranged and noticed they'd added my soon-to-be case to the line-up. Happy happy joy joy for Jfer! However, I couldn't get it then because I needed to wait for payday. : (

Most of you who know me well will know that I've been slowly but steadily losing weight since July 2009. I've set small goals and rewarded myself with non-food items upon reaching them. Yesterday, Thursday, I reached the 40-pound mark. I was ecstatic and figured that cute little Kate Spade case was the perfect reward for my efforts.

I drove through heavy snow to the Apple store today. (Mainly because I didn't know if I'd be able to get there tomorrow due to the accumulation.) I marched my happy, forty-pounds-lighter butt to the store and bought a little slice of happy for myself. To reward myself and to beat the inner snob down for a while longer. Did I need a Kate Spade case for my phone? No. But I worked my butt off for one and it's what I wanted. : )

It's super cute. I adore it. And if my kids ruin this one, it's coming out of their birthday money.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Valentine's Day is this coming Sunday. I thought it'd be a good time to discuss love. However, I'm about to wade into very controversial waters here. I'm not hoping to alienate any friends by speaking what's on my heart. I hope and pray that you can respect the thoughts and opinions I'm about to share. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, it's just a shift in my thought pattern that's been slowly moving from straight-laced and rigid to something akin to melting a glacier with a match. Slowly but surely, I may get there.

Here goes.

A year ago, if you'd asked me about being gay and gay marriage, I'd have vehemently said, "Absolutely not. No way. Not cool."

Now, it's more along the lines of, "Well, maybe. Maybe I should be more receptive to the concept of love instead of who is sharing it."

I didn't arrive at this conclusion overnight. I really can't tell you any single event that occurred that rocked my world and changed my mind and my heart.

King Waffle has two sweet women who work for him. I've met them, had them over to my house and broken bread with them and, shocker here, I've even let them babysit my children. They call each other "Honey" or "Hon" or "Dear" or "My love". They are, in scientific terms, a lesbian couple. They are, whilst within my house, J and E. (No names to protect the innocent here, folks.) In about a week, they're driving from deep in the heart of the Bible Belt up to Iowa where gay marriage/civil unions are legal. Who am I to say they shouldn't be allowed to profess their love and commitment to each other in a legally binding ceremony? Last time I checked, only God through Jesus Christ can judge us. If they want to be forever committed to one another then why should a borderline Fundie like myself stand in their way? "Oh NO! They're ruining the sanctity of marriage! It's supposed to be one man and one woman!" Well, maybe so. In a perfect world, that is. I honestly don't know if gay people are born that way. I'm on the fence with the whole "Nature vs. Nurture" argument. I just don't know.

After they're joined together, they're wanting to adopt a newborn baby. The baby's mother most likely won't be able to give it the care it needs as she is already struggling to care for another child. "Oh, gay people shouldn't adopt! That's wrong too!" You know what? I'd rather see that child grow up in the presence of two people who love each other and are committed to each other, to grow up in a stable home, to have enough to eat and drink, to have all her needs met, to grow and to thrive and receive LOVE, than to have the child grow up neglected by its own mother. To grow up without enough to eat, without the proper medical care, without her basic needs being met, without a loving relationship on which she may build future relationships. It's just not right to deny ANY child of those rights.

So, I ask you now: should we put boundaries on love? I think not. Does God's love have any bounds when it comes to the stupid, rotten, wretched things we do? I think not. Day in and day out, I do stupid, arrogant, selfish, dumb things and God still loves me. Why shouldn't we extend love and, by proxy, our support to anyone who needs it?

Think about it.

I leave you with an excerpt from an article I read this morning. I've been mulling over how to relay my thoughts on the matter all week and asking myself whether or not I should even share this. When I read this paragraph this morning, I knew today was the day. The article is titled "A Conservative Case for Gay Marriage"

"Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one's own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it."