Friday, May 8, 2015

They Grow Up So Fast

Sometimes I see pictures from when my kids were much younger, from when they were babies and toddlers. I’ll get a tiny pang of nostalgia for when they smelled like Johnson’s lavender baby wash and then I’ll quickly regain my senses. Most everyone I know subscribes (at least publicly) to the please-stay-little-forever mantra, where they wish they could keep their child in a state of perpetual baby-hood and always have them in your lap.

Confession: I don’t feel that way. I’m guessing I’m not alone, but people are afraid to go on the record and say that they actually enjoy their older kids. I’m sure a lot of people do feel the same as me, but it’s not often, if ever, that you hear anyone say it. I’m glad they’re all out of diapers, completely potty-trained, and I don’t have to wipe someone’s butt on a daily basis, something I did daily from November 29, 2001 until sometime around December 2010. There are fewer tantrums, less Caillou, and no more Disney Junior. I’m glad that we can rock out to Fall Out Boy and Oasis while we’re riding to school in the morning instead of having to suffer through Dora’s latest and greatest hits and misses. Gone are the days when I don’t have to constantly ask, “What’s in your mouth?!” and then fish out some random piece of debris. “Was that cat food or something else?” “AWWWWWW! Don’t eat THAT!” They can play in the yard without having to constantly be warned to stay out of the street. I don’t worry about them suddenly toppling over and bashing their head against the bricks on the hearth. My outlets are free from plastic obstacles, I open cabinets and drawers without hesitation, and the bleach can live under the kitchen sink again. Stairs are ascended and descended with ease and I don’t freak the freak out hoping they won’t go crashing down from two steps from the top. I can let an ugly word slip without fear of it being repeated in front of God and everyone at church. (Don’t fib, you know you’ve done it too.)

I know the teen years will be fraught with their own set of worries and struggles, but at least they can fully understand my words when they’ve screwed up and can know precisely why they’ve been given certain consequences. They can also understand the value of work and that it may result in a little green in their pocket. They’re at the point now where they can stay alone for a while during the day and I don’t necessarily have to have a babysitter stay with them. They can try new things and succeed or fail, and be able to understand the lessons learned along the way. It’s wonderful to see them developing into their personality rather than trying to catch a glimpse of who they are as a person after they’ve had four meltdowns in the same day. I’ve always loved watching them achieve things, but now I get the added joy of knowing that they were able to figure it out without much, if any, input from me.

I’m glad I’ve arrived at this season of my life. I always knew I’d enjoy them even more when they got a little older, and now I am at peace with saying it out loud. I’ve always loved and adored them, from the time they were a pink line on a stick, but now it’s an enjoyable time of life where I get to sit back and watch my years of work come to fruition, that they might reach their full potential as they grow into adults.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Play Dates to Day Dates

When I first started this blog, my children were still very much dependent on me for most of their daily needs. We were still in diapers, sippy cups, and high chairs. I was in search of a play date at least once per week in order to keep my sanity and to let little people expend some energy.

Play dates aren’t really in my vernacular anymore. Now it’s Justice, Fall Out Boy, Hot Topic, Attack on Titan, XBOX, Call of Duty…the list goes on. My eldest, Poodle, is in middle school and most days leaves me scratching my head and wondering which series she just referenced. The most recent blip on the radar is that which never goes out of style: boys. Oh yes, there’s a boy. I won’t share all her business, but let’s just say these two are over the moon for one another. They’re playing XBOX together, texting ALL day (when they can), and wanting to see each other at any opportunity.

I just sent her off with him and his mom so they can go to the arcade together. (How’s that for old-fashioned fun?) As I walked back into the house, it occurred to me that she’s sorta kinda on a date. It’s a day date, and they’re supervised, but they’re going off together to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. Sounds like a date to me. A day date.

Somewhere along the way, everyone was finally potty trained, the high chair was donated to charity, and all the sippy cups stopped being used. I can’t tell you the exact day those things happened. Now we’re in a new season of life. It feels simultaneously weird, surreal, and rocket-propelled but somehow it feels normal too.

I love watching her (and all of them) grow and develop. Seeing it happen to them makes me feel young again, yet very old, all at the same time. Some people want their babies to stay small forever. I’m ready to watch as they grow and blossom into this next season of their lives.

Part of me feels I should change the name of my blog because I’m no longer cramming a sippy cup into my purse. I think it would not give credit to how far they have come and how much they’ve grown. Y’all know I’ll always carry my couture, but maybe now I’m stuffing dance tickets and receipts for football games in it now.

Don’t stay small, Poodle. Grow into who God made you to be, and do it with the tenacity and vivaciousness that thrives in you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


In my mid-to-late teens, I was into so-called alternative music. The radio station I listened to would play an hour-long show over lunch called The House of Retro Pleasure. They’d play punk, alternative, new wave hits of the 80s in the mid-90s. This is when I first heard and became familiar with a song by U2 called Sunday Bloody Sunday. That was the extent of my familiarity with the phrase Bloody Sunday until some time later.

This past weekend was the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday riots and the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, just a little more than an hour’s drive from my home. There was a massive gathering; somewhere around 80,000 people was what I heard and read in news reports. This march was peaceful. You’re well aware that the original was not. I won’t rehash history, but you all know that people were beaten and bloodied and maimed in that first march. Go back and read that sentence again.

Key word? PEOPLE.

Fellow humans were beaten because they wanted to vote. People just like you and me. People with thoughts and dreams and feelings and families were treated like animals because they dared to think themselves as human.

Now, fast forward to today. Fifty years on. Two thousand fifteen. 2015.

Come on, people. We’re so progressive and inclusive and tolerant nowadays, yet some people are still stuck in 1965. It infuriates me to think that there are other white people who are still so closed-minded, so immature, so filled with hate (despite many of them calling themselves Christians), that we are STILL having to deal with this level of foolishness. Confession: if I see a shady looking black guy, I’m going to make some evasive moves. Guess what: I’m also going to do the exact same thing if I see a shady looking white guy.

When can we take off the blinders and begin to LOVE one another? Why is there a fraternity in Oklahoma that’s now completely cut off from its university? Because they chose to be ignorant and intolerant fools. Maybe if they chose to get to know black men and welcomed them into their fraternity, they’d realize they might be missing out on some real fun.

I don’t know exactly where I’m going with this, but I just know it pisses me off.

When I think back over my life, I remember the little girls I was friends with as I grew up. They weren’t always little white girls that looked just like me. There was Charmaine in the first grade. She was a sweet little girl of Asian descent. We ran and played every day on the playground. In third through fifth grades, I had a friend named LaToya. Wanna know what made us friends? Our phone numbers. Mine was 724-1628 and hers was 724-1678. I didn’t see her as a black girl; I saw her as my friend. She was sassy and dressed cute and always had her hair done up in several cute little pigtails all over her head. Another girl named Sabrina always ran laps with me during PE. When I’d get tired and would want to quit, Sabrina would always encourage me to keep running. In high school there was a guy named LaMacy. He was witty and just a fun guy to be around. He always had a smile and a sarcastic remark that was all in fun. He was that way with everyone, even when people tried to play that ugly race card. As I fast-forward to my adult life, I think of April. April is stylish, always well dressed, has impeccable taste, and brings an unmatched level of beauty and grace to the role of preacher’s wife. Then there’s Kristen, who is a fellow CPST and all-around Super Smart Chick Who’s Going Places. Kristen makes me smile and has the whole package of brains and beauty. There’s also Sherrie. Sherrie is kind, loving, peaceful, and has just the right amount of sass. I’ve never met her in person, but I’ve no doubt that she’d give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. Without the people who risked so much, I might not know these extraordinary people.

A Christian author named Jen Hatmaker had this to say this morning on Facebook:

“What will it take for the majority to finally say: "This is happening." What more do we need to see? What other tragedies will validate what is plainly going on? How many voices of lament must we hear before we hit our knees in solidarity, repent for the shameful systems that built and reinforced racial inequality, and join hands with our minority brothers and sisters and say NO MORE? Hell, a strong first step is simply to say WE BELIEVE YOU.”

Time will tell which side of history we all wind up on. As for me, I want to be on the side of LOVE. When will the majority stand up and say “NO MORE!” God, help ME to say it from today forward.

Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in His sight.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Add Friend *click*

I have something I must share, because keeping it to myself and to my immediate environment just isn’t doing a bit of good. I’ve been praying about it, and have asked other people to pray about it under the guise of the “I have an Unspoken Prayer Request” umbrella of vagueness. I feel I must apologize in advance, because I feel that I’m going to hurt people along the way, but I won’t apologize for my feelings as that’s exactly what they are: MY feelings. All that being said…

Newsflash: I don’t have any close friends. Really.

I spend a LOT of time online, particularly on your favorite site and mine: Facebook. By a lot, I mean hours every day. Yes, every day. I hear what you’re saying, “Go out and do something!” “Take a walk!” etc. That’s just the thing. I want to do those things. I want to do things with a friend. Do I spend too much time on Facebook because I don’t have any friends, (and I’m seeking a connection in any way possible) or do I not have any friends because I spend too much time on Facebook?

I knew it was a reality, but it was harshly shoved in my face when I recently turned 40 and I had no one with whom I could celebrate. Sure, there’s the family thing, but no one called me up and excitedly invited me for a celebratory birthday lunch/coffee, etc. I went out and treated myself to a cupcake. Alone. Now, I didn’t expect for the population of metro Birmingham to come rushing to my door, but I have to level with you when I say I felt completely alone and forgotten that day, as I do most days. It felt like an ordinary day, if I’m being honest.

I’ve been largely friend-less since I was a senior in high school. I’ve met people and have lost touch, moved away, grown apart, etc. over the years, but there’s only been maybe three people over the past 22 years who I felt really had my back in a time of need. I don’t even have college friends, sorority sisters, or anything of the sort because I really didn’t “do” college. I had a lot of drama in my life at that point in time and it just didn’t work out. Regardless of the cause, I missed out on that portion of my life. Even if I could return to college, it’s not like I’d fit in with the standard crowd. It’d be nothing short of hysterical and pathetic to see a 40 year old woman trying to rush Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Right now, I don’t feel like there’s anyone I could call if I had an emergency in the middle of the night. You know, THAT kind of friend. The one you text at 3AM because you NEED her. The kind that doesn’t mind if you text her at 3AM.

I have TONS of acquaintances; people I see regularly and people I see infrequently. It’s good to have acquaintances and contacts as you call on each other from time to time for a favor, etc.. but there’s no one person (save my husband) with whom I feel I have that strong sister/friend bond. I crave it so very much. The kind with whom I can share a silly inside joke that will still be as funny in 20 years as it is when it’s first shared.

Most of the time, I feel like I just don’t fit into the invisible mold that’s around here. You probably don’t even know it exists unless you have lived elsewhere. Everywhere I go it’s as if I’m standing on the edge of a circle of people holding hands. You’re privy to what’s going on in the circle, but you’re never an actual component of the circle. You want someone to unlock hands with their neighbor and have those two links grab your hand and pull you inside, but it doesn’t happen. I try to dress like the locals and natives do. I try and engage people in conversation by trying to be funny or witty, or talking about something they’re interested in. Nothing ever clicks. I can’t seem to find anyone who shares my interests, or vice versa. I’ve lived here in Birmingham for more than six years now, and some days I feel like I just moved here two weeks ago. I don’t know why I can’t make a connections. At times I’ve honestly wondered if I was so off-putting that no one wanted to be around me, or if I smelled weird, or was just too fat to be seen with, or just too weird/annoying. I get jealous and depressed when I see groups of women/moms going out for a night on the town, a concert, etc. I long to be a part of something that’s beyond my iPad screen.

People say their friends live in the computer. Right now, that’s exactly where mine live. One lives in Texas and the other in Iowa. They’re the only people I have that I can spill my guts to and still ‘look them in the eye’, so to speak, the next day. They’re wonderful, lovely, trustworthy people. But as much as I love them, they can’t come hold my hand in the middle of the night if I needed them to do so. I can’t call them up and say, “Meet me at Starbucks in 20 minutes!”

So, may I attempt to sell myself? Not in a prostitute kind of way, but in a “contents include” kind of way.

I like/love:

All things British/English. That includes the monarchy. I follow what they do, but not in a stalker kind of a way, just in an ‘I’m fascinated by this lifestyle’ kind of way. I do enjoy the occasional hot cuppa. (That’s hot tea, in case you didn’t know.) I have an unhealthy obsession with cramming my head full of facts and trivia relating to England and their monarchy and the kings and queens they’ve had over a thousand years. I’m even known to occasionally say ‘God Save The Queen!’ (and sometimes I’m not joking!).

I adore Starbucks. Ask me for a coffee date and I’ll almost always say yes.

I love spelling and grammar. I love to correct other people’s spelling and grammar. Please don’t shy away if yours isn’t perfect. Mine isn’t always perfect either.

I’m a professing, practicing Christian. I’m into Jesus. I’m into God. If you’re not, that’s okay. I can still love you as you are, (as Christ has commanded me to do) because Jesus loves me as I am.

I have three noisy, sassy kids. I call them The Vikings. They’re loud and rowdy and they leave a path of destruction in their wake, that’s why.

I have a Rottweiler that lives in my house. She’s a big baby. She will lick you to death before she will bite you. I say weird things to her in German to make her bark and growl.

I adore overpriced purses and handbags. Don’t make fun of me because I will spend $300 on a Kate Spade handbag. Don’t give me a hard time because I want to own a Louis Vuitton, despite the fact that they cost nearly $1,000. I don’t drink wine, alcohol, beer. I don’t buy shoes and I wear clothes from Target. Purses are my vice. Stand next to me when I walk into Saks Fifth Avenue and fork over 11 $100 bills to own a designer bag.

My favorite color is blue.

I am a certified child passenger safety technician, or CPST. I install car seats and will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about some of them.

I love cake. Like seriously LOVE cake. I am a cake snob. I don’t like grocery store cake. (Yes, Publix, Sam’s and Costco have GROSS cake.)

I like different kinds of music. I will sing to the point of embarrassing my kids if “MY JAM!” comes on while I’m driving. Loosen up and sing along with me. Or tell me to loosen up and shout it out with you.

I like Apple products. Don’t expect me to understand how to unlock your Android device and I won’t expect you to use my iPhone.

I love history and talking about history.

I love makeup and I’m not afraid to drop $18 on eyeliner.

I’m weird. Super duper weird.

I occasionally like to speak in different accents. Just roll with it if I bust into Jewish Mom from Long Island mode.

I’m fiercely loyal. I expect you to be that way too.

I will keep your secrets. If you tell me something in confidence, I will not blab. It’s not my news, or my place, to tell.

Those are the things that immediately come to mind. Maybe if you become my bestie, we can expand each other’s horizons.

It’s been really hard to write this. I’m sure it’ll be even harder to publish it, and then share it to Facebook so it actually gets read. I’m scared now. Scared of what people are going to think after they’ve read it. Will I be met with pity the next time I see some of you? Will I get a sideways glance because you think I’m nuts? Some of you are probably reading this and just think I’m pathetic. I don’t know. I do know that I don’t want to hear “I’m so sorry” or any other sympathetic pleas. What I want right now is a friend, and after sitting and waiting for so long, this is the only way I know to reach out.

Disciple I people, this has been my Unspoken. Now you know.

Who’s ready to be my bestie?