Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Beautiful Disaster

Two things today gave me the idea for this post. First, Jen M. over at Get in the Car! wrote a very thought provoking piece about beauty standards in this county and what steps we take to make ourselves feel beautiful -- or the steps we don't take, depending on your point of view. I started to comment on her site but couldn't form anything coherent at the time (her blog intimidates me a little because it's so well written).

But I continued to think over the topic today and I came to the conclusion that I cut, color, wax, make-up, -- I'd like to say exercise but we all know that would be a lie -- not in an effort to conform to society's standards, but in an effort to make myself look like I used to -- when I was young and dewy and my head was not besmirched by grays.

Then later, I was emailing back and forth with Niki over at Impostor Mom and she recounted a very small portion of a story in which she lost half an eyebrow to a waxing gone wrong -- at least I'm assuming it was gone wrong since one generally doesn't WANT to lose half an eyebrow. And her story made me think about all the times I suffered for beauty or had some cosmetic related disaster befall me.

  • Of course we all remember the lip liner from hell perpetrated on me by the Henri Bendel consultant.
  • One time I went to have my upper lip waxed. Occasionally, fluctuations in hormones give me a little bit of a 'stache so I went to have that taken care of. The girl was new and instead of placing the wax all the way across my upper lip, she just put it on either side of the philtrum
So, instead of looking gorgeous and hair-free, I looked like Hitler! It really wasn't that much hair, but the complete absence of hair on either side made it really stand out. I didn't notice until I got home and then I had to go to the store to buy a self-waxing kit and finish the job. (Small digression: can I tell you that it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be to find the name of that part of your lip? And that also in my search I came across this amusing site. I am now fully convinced that there is a blog about everything!)

  • Once when I was in college, my friends and I visited the local cosmetology school because we heard you could get a $5 manicure. So we went and the very nervous girl filed my nails and stuck them in some liquid (You're soaking in it!). After my fingers were all pruney she confessed "I'm not very good at painting nails. You can do it yourself if you want." Um. If I was any good at painting my own nails I wouldn't be here asking you to do it. But she was right. She wasn't very good and I did end up painting them myself.
  • And probably the pièce de résistance was the time I went to a very chichi salon in Hilton Head, SC, to a stylist who had trained at Vidal Sassoon in London, to get my very trendy, very chunky highlights. I asked for two very blonde, very thick streaks on either side of my face. I wanted funky. Cool. This is what I got:

When he dried my hair, I didn't have two blonde streaks on either side. I had two WHITE streaks on either side. Very damaged white streaks I might add. Hair so damaged, in fact, that a big chunk broke right off a day later. I went back to the salon and he told me he couldn't help me. He told me he thought I wanted "dramatic". Well, shit. I did. But not The Munsters! One of the other stylists took pity on me and tried to put some color back with some kind of rinse but it didn't really help. I ended up chopping most of it off a few months later because the hair was so damaged.

Those are just a few of the times I suffered for beauty. I'm sure there have been others. And I'm sure there'll be more. But hopefully not too many. Anyone want to share their horror stories?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I Think an Intervention is in Order

Two signs that Mr. Daddy and I need some time away from the kids:

1. Yesterday I told a coworker that I needed to go tee tee.

I heard it come out of my mouth and as I was hearing it I couldn't believe that I said that out loud, but I was powerless to stop it.

"I live with a two year old! I'm sorry!" I explained, mortified. Fortunately, she got a good laugh out of it.

2. I've been hounding Mr. Daddy for days to bring boxes home from work. I sent him two emails yesterday reminding him. Did he bring boxes home yesterday? No, he did not.

We had chili for supper tonight and we usually have corn muffins with it. Mr. Daddy gets home before I do and he called while I was picking up Bubba. I returned his call when I got back in the car.

"Did you need something?"

"Yes, I was going to ask you if you wanted me to make muffins for dinner. But then I realized if you give a mommy a muffin, she's going to want some boxes to go with it. So I went back to work and got some boxes.

I got a great haircut today. I would post some pictures, but I'm coloring it as we speak. Maybe tomorrow. Now I'm just trying to figure out how to lose 10 lbs by Friday.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Move on Down, Move on Down the Road...

So, yeah, we're moving. On the one hand it's gonna be a big old hassle, but on the other hand I think it's the right decision for us.

Without going into a lot of details, the last couple of years have been hard on us financially. But now I feel like we're making a step in the right direction. Where we are is not how I pictured our lives at this point, but hey, you gotta roll with the punches. The best part about our current decision is that we're going to be saving a significant amount of money every month. And in a couple of years, after the kids are out of daycare, we're going to build our dream house.

But there are some other reasons I'm glad we're moving as well. We currently live in a very affluent county, the county that has been deemed as "THE" county to live in. The county with the "best" schools. But really? This is the "white flight" county. Everyone has fled the neighboring county, which has a high number of housing projects and a lot of poverty. The schools here are good, but as far as test scores, etc. go, I'm not sure they're any better than some of the good schools in the poor county. But here they're almost 100% white. Which everybody assumes makes them "safe."

But you know what? This world isn't all white. And I was never sure that I wanted my kids to go to a school with so little diversity. In Bubba's life so far he has been good friends with some African-American kids, some Hispanic kids, a Filipino kid, a French kid, a Brazilian kid and an Indian kid. And I want that to continue. Though the county to which we are moving is not quite as diverse as I would like, it is certainly more diverse than the county in which we currently live.

And did I mention that this county is affluent? It is not unusual for homes here to sell for upwards of $400,000. I know that doesn't sound like much to some of you big city folk, but around these parts? That's a lot of money. Especially since the University is the largest local employer and they are notorious for underpaying their employees. Believe me, I know.

And if we're going to be honest here -- and we are -- I often find myself feeling "less than" when talking to people that we've met since we moved here. It's sort of like being the poor relation, you know? Stay at home moms abound. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking stay at home moms -- I used to be one of them. But the clothes these moms wear cost more than anything in my closet. They always look so put together and their children are always in neatest, crispest, CLEANEST clothes. And their houses are ginormous!!

And I don't like feeling less than. I know this is strictly MY problem -- these are MY issues. I'd be lying if I said I don't like STUFF -- nice stuff, unfortunately -- and perhaps it's just a bit of sour grapes on my part that I feel I don't fit in here. But I also feel that there's a level of superficiality that I have NO INTEREST in trying compete with.

So I'm glad we're moving to a place where we'll -- I mean I'll -- be more comfortable.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Still here...still tired

Yeah, I know. Same old, same old. It's been a long weekend, though.

On Friday night we had an event at work. Which meant that I worked that day from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm, with only about a 30 minute break at 5:00. Oof! I came home at 10:00 and I was not quite ready to go to bed yet -- wanted to decompress a little first. But then I thought "Good lord, what am I doing? I'm beat " and I went to bed.

Saturday was spent working on our housing situation. We're going to be moving and I spent most of the day getting that lined up. I'll write more details later.

And today, well, today I'm going to be starting the moving process. You know how it goes -- one pile for the trash, one pile for Goodwill/Yard sale and one pile to take to the new digs.

BUT, I have the upcoming weekend to look forward to. I know it's only Sunday but I'm already living for Friday! We're heading south to Savannah for the Savannah Book Festival. Hopefully I'm going to get to meet John Berendt (he of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame). Also, Mary Kay Andrews is going to be there and her books are usually a fun read.

Speaking of reading....I'm dying for a good book. Anybody got any suggestions?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


First of all, you guys are all kinds of awesome. You've given me some great advice to pass along to Matt and Erica!

Y'all. I'm tired (pronounced tarred -- that's how we do it down here in the south). It's been a long week. I've started several topics tonight, but my brain just won't cooperate. I think it's on a writer's strike too.

I think I'm going to go put my feet up and watch Celebrity Rehab and feel better about myself. Sheesh! Poor Kenickie.

Parenting Advice -- Notes from the Trenches

Way back when, when Mr. Daddy and I were just newlyweds, Mr. Daddy worked with a guy named Matt. Matt was nice and we all hung out for a while. But Matt was single and we were a couple and it went as those things usually do -- we eventually parted ways. Occasionally we'd still run into him in town, but then we moved to my home town and we lost touch completely.

Fast forward to 5 years later. Mr. Daddy and I had moved to Savannah. And one night, while cruising the aisles of Publix, who should I run into but Matt! And his wife! In Savannah!

As it turned out, they lived in Savannah too. We all met for dinner and got to know Erica and we liked her. We all had a lot in common and it was almost like they were our other half. We became very good friends and hung out together quite a bit.

Even after Bubba came along, it didn't really affect our relationship. They both love kids (Matt especially) and would have had one of their own right away, but he wanted to finish his degree and Erica was just beginning her career, so they weren't really ready.

And then we moved up here. And unfortunately, while absence does make the heart grow fonder the logistics of maintaining a long distance relationship are a bitch. We usually try to see them if we're in Savannah, but we don't get down there that much anymore.

And now, after two heartbreaking miscarriages, they are expecting their first child in June. A girl. And we're going to Savannah next weekend!

Last night Mr. Daddy was talking to Matt about our upcoming trip. Matt asked if he had any words of advice. Mr. Daddy said, "Dude, there's nothing I can say that will prepare you. It will be like nothing you've experienced before." Which is definitely true.

But I did have something I wanted to pass along -- something I wish somebody had said to me. "Matt," I said, "the most important thing you can do is to trust your instincts. You will know your baby. You will know what to do. Don't let yourself get freaked out by all the books you'll read. Trust your gut."

And I didn't say this, but I wish I had -- Do what works for your family. Don't let someone tell you that x is right or wrong or make you feel bad about a choice you've made. Having a baby is hard and if you've found something that works for you and makes your life a little easier, then I say go for it.

Before we see Matt and Erica next weekend, I'd like to put together a little book -- a book of real parenting advice from those of us who've been there. In the trenches, so to speak.

If you'd like to share some advice, I'll include it in the book too. And remember guys, they're newbies, so don't scare them!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life Lessons from a Man Named Beefy

From the time I was about 5 years old until I was a teenager, I spent every day of every summer at a local day camp. This camp was run by a man named Beefy. He was named Beefy for all the reasons that you might imagine -- he was a large, hulking, man with hands like sides of beef and fingers like sausages. He wore his hair in a 1950s flat top and he had an ever-present chaw of tobacco in his cheek, and usually had tobacco juice staining the corners of his mouth. Woe to you if you happened to get a bee sting in his presence. He'd pull out a big, slobbery, hunk of tobacco and press it to your sting. Definitely a case of the cure being worse than the ailment!
Occasionally Beefy wore khakis and a cotton shirt, but his uniform was a large pair of denim overalls.

And Beefy was gruff. He could yell like a drill sergeant -- I'm pretty sure a stint in the army was somewhere in his past -- and when he yelled jump, you yelled back "HOW HIGH?" The more he yelled, the higher his voice went (in my family, whenever someone would start to yell and their voice would start to rise we'd always say "Don't get Beefy tones with me!) We campers lived a little bit in fear of him. Getting "sent to Beefy" was the worse punishment that could be imagined. If you got caught throwing rocks, you had to fill your socks and your pockets with rocks and walk around with them in there the rest of the day. If you were older, and male, and you committed a more serious offense, it was the slingblade for you. You'd be sent out to sling blade the high grass that grew around the camp lake. In the blazing hot sun. No lawn mowers at this camp, no sir! Just testosterone fueled arm strength and a sharp blade.

I don't think I need to say that this camp was not for the weak. We were on the go from 9:00 to 12:00, each hour spent on an outside activity such as canoeing, riflery, softball, or playing dodgeball in the gym. Nothing was air conditioned. We would cool ourselves by visiting Whippoorwill spring, an ice-cold spring that bubbled up on the property, but whatever you do! DON'T PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE DIPPER! After a lunch at which you dared not complain about the fare, we retired to the (again, un-airconditioned) cabins -- boys to one cabin, girls to another -- for the nap. You didn't have to sleep but you could NOT talk. There were many children who did not last more than a day or two at camp. My cousin who usually spent a couple of weeks with me in the summer absolutely detested it. I loved it. I used to use it as a test of whether I would like someone or not -- Could you handle camp? If not, we probably wouldn't get along. It just meant you didn't have "the stuff."

Now, I was a good girl so I rarely got in trouble, but even Beefy and I had a run in or two. As you got older at camp, you could get into leadership positions, but you had to be an LIT first -- or Leader in Training. Basically that meant you got to be slave labor. The most dreaded assignment as an LIT was kitchen duty. That basically meant that you got to stand around in the kitchen all day and have Beefy yell at you.

I remember once I was helping get lunch together and he yelled "Madden, get that blue pot down from that shelf!"

Um. There was no blue pot. There was a black pot. And a couple of silver ones. But no blue.

"Where, Beefy? I don't see a blue pot."

"THAT BLUE POT RIGHT THERE, MADDEN!" he yelled as he reached up and grabbed the black pot.


But Beefy had a soft side, too. And he could impart a lot of wisdom. Once, as a leader I made all my girls go the bathroom before we went down to the rifle range, which was quite a hike. "You better go now" I warned "because there's no bathroom down there and WE WILL NOT come back to the bathroom."

After we had been at the rifle range for some time, one of my older girls came up to me and said "Hannah wet her pants." I approached Hannah -- she was seven and she was mortified! When I asked Hannah why she didn't tell me she had to go she said "You said you wouldn't let us go to the bathroom." I could have died right there on the spot.

I couldn't leave all the girls with my LIT, so instead I sent Hannah up to the camp office with her. I felt like I was sending Hannah to the lion's den. What would Beefy say? Would he punish her? But I needn't have worried. Beefy found her some extra clothes and had someone wash and dry her clothes for her so that none of the other campers would find out. He pulled her into a hug and told her "Don't you let anybody make fun of you about this. If anybody gives you any problems, you just tell me and I'll take care of it."

But probably the thing that Beefy is most well known for in my house is one of his sayings. He might not have originated this saying, but he is the first person I'd heard it from. Many a parent struggling with a rebellious teen sent their wayward offspring to Beefy. I mean heck, it was almost like boot camp. And he did set a few back on the straight and narrow path. But a few were not to be helped and left camp and down the road found themselves in trouble with the law, living a life of petty crime or drugs. But Beefy had an interesting outlook on these young men, for they usually were male, an outlook that may hold a nugget of truth -- "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit."

I think I'm going to cross stitch that and hang it in my living room.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Taking One for the Team

I know some of you have probably come to the same realization that I have -- sometimes you have to let things "go" for the greater good. Really, that's a concept that we learn in elementary school, but for me it's been the hardest concept to put into practice in my marriage. So often I want to prove I'm right -- no matter how pissed off we get at each in the meantime! Sometimes I play the martyr, even when I know the short term gain is really a long term loss. But sometimes you've just go to let it go. You have to ask yourself -- is it really worth it?

I had a post up earlier today about my anger at my husband's attitude when he returned from his trip. But as I was trying to update it to add something, our computer froze up and when I rebooted the post was no longer there. I don't know what happened. I'm not really very technically savvy. But maybe the computer was really doing me a favor. If Mr. Daddy had read the post he might have laughed. Or he might not have.

Yes, I'm still a little ticked off. But it's hard to stay mad at Mr. Daddy when he's spending the ENTIRE DAY with Bubba and untold numbers of preschoolers at the Gwinnett Gladiators Kid's Day festivities as an unofficial chaperone.

I guess the moral of this story is that sometimes we all end up taking one for the team.

Technical Assistance Required

Hello, lovely internets. Does anyone out there know if it's possible to reclaim a post that was accidentally deleted? Cause if you do....HELP!

I was trying to update my previous post when...kerflooey. Computer meltdown and post deleted.

Anyone? Bueller?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

VMQ Day!!

What is that, you ask? Why that, my dear friends, is Victory for Madame Queen day! Mr. Daddy is coming home! And he doesn't know it yet, but when he walks in the door -- TAG! You're it! And I'm running for the car to head out! who cares?! Somewhere. Anywhere I can be ALONE. Aloooone! Alllooonnneee! Bwahahahaha!

Frankly, I don't see how single parents do it. Kudos to you, Mom! And all you other single parents out there. Don't get me wrong. The kids have really been absolute angels this week. Very little arguing. Very few tantrums. But good grief, if I hear Mommy one more time I seriously think I might lose it. There's just been nobody to hand them off to. Nobody to pick up my slack when my strength, my resolve, were flagging.

Oh, and it wasn't the end of the world yesterday after all. The snow didn't stick and it didn't even last very long. It hasn't really snowed here in about 4 years, so when I snowed twice in one week, I was sure it was the first sign of the impending apocalypse!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

REPENT!! The End is Near!!

That can be the only explanation, right? I mean it's snowing -- and sticking -- for the second time in a week! WTH?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Celebrity Rant

Okay, it's Friday night. I have two more days until Mr. Daddy comes home. This week has not been as hard as I thought it might, but still, I'm tired y'all.

So, I'm going to get something off my chest about the celebrity world. Are you ready?

You'd think I would choose Britney, or Brit Brit as I prefer to call her. But frankly, that case has moved past interesting into tragic.

No, here is the target of my wrath:

Does anybody see what's WRONG with this picture? Why oh why does Suri Cruise still have a bottle at almost two years of age??!! Tom, Katie, what are you doing? Clearly you haven't studied your child development books. I have studied those books. That bottle is a pseudobottle. You're walking around saying that this is okay and being reasonable about when you don't know and I do. There is no such thing as a bottle after 12 months, Tom. All that does is mask the problem. Why are you being so glib about this? (Updated to add: This paragraphs is basically a paraphrase of Tom's rant to Matt Lauer on the Today Show about his disbelief in postpartum depression and the use of antidepressants. I was hoping everybody picked up on this, but based on the first three comments I'm thinking that they didn't. I'm really not this judgemental!)

Where is Brooke Shields when you need her to lay the smackdown on somebody?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dee!

January 18th is the birthday of my best friend, Dee.

I met Dee in 6th grade. That was the year that all the county elementary schools merged into one school.

Funny thing was, I actually met Dee years before, but it was many, many years later before we realized it. I really met Dee for the first time at a birthday party I attended when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I was attending the party of my friend Natalie -- she was a friend from church. Most of other girls there were her friends from school so I didn't know most of them. Very early in the evening, it became clear that two other girls and I, well, we just didn't measure up. We were excluded from every activity and when it came time to go to bed, Natalie informed the three of us that she and all the other girls were taking their sleeping bags to her room. WE were not invited. WE had to stay in the living room.

But, we made the best of it and the three of us actually had a good time. I never knew the names of the other girls, or if I knew them I forgot them.

Years passed and Dee and I were talking about her birthday, which was the day before Natalie's (we were all still in school together). Dee remarked "Well, the worst birthday I ever had was when I had to spend my birthday at Natalie's house and she went off and left me out in the living room with two other girls!"

"That was me!" I cried. By this point we had been friends for quite some time and we couldn't believe the coincidence.

Although I met Dee again in sixth grade, it wasn't really until seventh grade that we became close. I've mentioned before that when I was in seventh grade, every single friend I had turned on me and refused to talk to me for several days. Everyone but Dee. I remember she chased me down as I was walking out of the school one afternoon and said "I'm not afraid to talk to you." I'm not sure she'll ever know how much that meant to me. She, who I had only known for a short while, showed me a greater kindness than some girls I had known my whole life.

Below is the "friend photo" that Dee and I had made in middle school. We were on the yearbook staff together. We spent nearly every weekend at each other's houses. We even went to the eighth grade spring dance together. I have a photo of us at that dance, plus a LOT of others, in my attic but it was way too spidery to even contemplate! Sorry, Dee!

And we remained best friends all through high school. My high school was small-ish -- my graduating class had 197 people in it, if I remember correctly. And since Dee and I were both in college prep courses, we had most of our classes together.

Here we are in AP Calculus, hence the excitement radiating from our faces:

We even roomed together in college. And unfortunately, our friendship faltered for a while. Okay, okay, I let a boy come between us. I liked him. She didn't. A LOT. I moved out. Unfortunately, she was right about him but pride got in the way -- my way -- and we didn't speak for a long time. I can't remember exactly how the breach was healed -- who made the first move, etc. -- but eventually we made our way back to each other. I don't know if I ever told her I'm sorry, but I am. Sorry that I let that happen. If only I could have told myself these things way back then, I could have saved myself a LOT of grief.

I still consider Dee my best friend. Though she only lives about 40 miles away, we don't get to see each other nearly as often as I would like. She has a full time job and two kids, plus her husband is a farmer on top of HIS full time job, so she stays pretty busy.

But I just wanted to take this opportunity to honor Dee's birthday. And say thanks for being my friend. Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's Snowing!!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful. Maybe. But Probably Not.

Have you heard the news? We might get some snow. I know, I know. You Pittsburghians and New Englanders scoff at our excitement, at our definition of "snow." But hey, we Southerners will take what we can get.

Before I go any further, I want to show you this:

Any guesses as to what this might be? The answer will appear later in this post.

I really shouldn't get my hopes up about snow because I can probably count on one hand the times I've experienced snow in my life. At most, two hands, which is good because that's all I've got. When I was still living at home, every time the weathermen would predict snow, my mom and I would get so excited. We'd stay up super late waiting for the snow to arrive. We'd check outside periodically to see if there was something, anything, falling. We'd usually go to bed dejected and have to arise at our normal early hour and go about our day disappointed and exhausted.

But every now and then our faith would be rewarded. And then we'd don the horribly inappropriate winter weather gear we owned -- not much! -- and head out. No matter what time it was we would always go for a walk in the falling snow. When I was in elementary school we lived near a small park and we'd always head there.

I wish I'd had a camera to record the scene, but I can still see it so clearly in my mind's eye. Everything so silent, still. Large flakes falling gently, quietly collecting on the branches, on the grass. As we approached the park, the streetlights wore halos. In the park was a small creek, crossed by a short bridge. Under the shade of the trees, the light dimmed but grew brighter as it began to reflect off the gathering snow. We'd circle the park, then head home.

In the morning, we'd wake, don our soggy coats and galoshes and head out again. We didn't dare drive. Southerners get so little snow we have no experience driving in it and the really smart ones among us know that and don't even venture out. We'd walk downtown, to Bojangles, where all the old men sat drinking coffee. We'd fortify ourselves with a hearty biscuit and some coffee for my mom and ice-cold Coke for me. Then we'd head back home.

Usually, by day two the snow would be gone. And we'd be back to our daily routines. Until the next time the weatherman said snow.

Now, as for the mystery item from the top of this post. Any guesses?

THAT, my friends is a 30 year old pizza pan that lived one glorious day as a snow sled! When I was about six or seven years old we got an amazing snow. Probably one of the best in my life. But, as I mentioned before, we were sorely lacking in snow paraphernalia. So, my mom got the brilliant idea to break out the pizza pans and we spent a glorious day sledding down a hill near my house. It is a very happy memory from my childhood.

Mr. Daddy wonders why I hang onto the pan. It has survived several moves with us but the thing is completely worthless. You can't cook a single thing on it because the surface is so bent and scratched. But I keep it for the memories. And for the eternal hope of snow. One day, maybe, it will have a chance to shine again.

Monday, January 14, 2008

There Are Children Starving in China....

But first, a few housekeeping details.

Mr. Daddy is out of town for seven days. That means the care and keeping of the two chirrun is up to me. Tonight? A rousing success. No tantrums. No tears. Oh, and the kids were really well behaved too. (Also? I can blog with abandon! I'm going to positively gorge myself on blogs! Bwahahahaha!)

Lauren's sister solved the mystery. Check out the comments in this post. Yay Lauren's sister! I thought I was going to have to get In Search Of involved.

And finally, look what Karen over at The Rocking Pony gave me!

Karen is one of my best blogging buddies! If I could give this right back to her I would, but I think that kind of defeats the purpose. So, I'm going to pass it on to a new friend, Tootsie Farklepants over at Vintage Thirty, and my old (and by old I mean long time!) friend Laurel at The Tea Party Place. But truly, I love you all!

But now back to the starving children.

So, you know there's an obesity epidemic in this country, right? Especially among children, right? The old song and dance was that we all had to clean our plates. But not anymore. We all know that, right?

Apparently my son's pre-K didn't get that memo.

See, at this school, if you clean your plate (making a "happy plate" they call it), you get a prize. And not just any prize. You get a piece of candy. Yes, you heard me. You get a piece of candy. Don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with candy in and of itself. Candy has its place and time. I just don't think that it should be used as an encouragement to get kids to eat.

Bubba comes home almost every day telling me that he made a happy plate. Once or twice he mentioned how full he was and I told him that he didn't have to eat it all if he didn't want it. "But Mommmeeee! I wanted to make a happy plate!"

My concern grew when I visited for his Holiday Luncheon. I served his plate with a small amount of everything that was offered. His school does have one rule that I heartily approve of -- you have to try at least one bite of everything on your plate. So, I made Bubba try everything. He ate all of some things and overall ate what I thought was a good amount. He asked if he could have his dessert -- a cookie -- and I said yes.

"Bubba!" his teacher chimed in. "You can't have your cookie. You didn't make a happy plate!"

Um. I'm his mother. If I say he's eaten enough to have his cookie, then he can have his cookie!

Overall, I really like Bubba's school. They seem to be giving him a very good basis for kindergarten. They go on interesting field trips. His class has several international students and he's getting exposed to a lot of other cultures. And I really like his teacher. She GETS Bubba (i.e. she thinks he's really smart, like I do!). But, she also knows how to keep him in line.

And see, here's where my real dilemma comes in. Bubba eats very little at home. My stance has always been that the whole family will eat what I cook. I refuse to be a short order cook. And you have to eat at least one bite of everything on your plate. But, if that's all you choose to eat, then that's all you get. No snacks. Nothing. If you don't eat, you go to bed hungry. There are many nights when it seems that Bubba eats very little. So, it kind of comforts me to know that he is at least eating something at school. Even if he does feel compelled to eat it all.

Am I going to bring this up with school administration. Maybe. I haven't decided yet. What do you think?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Some History and a Mystery!

On Friday, Bubba had his 5 year well visit. Everything is good. The doctor seemed a little surprised that he hadn't grown very much, but he's still within the 50-75th percentile.

And as our neighbor pointed out (with a slight ding to Mr. Daddy's ego) "Neither of you are big people."

The downside to the doctor's visit was that Bubba got three shots and his finger pricked, which sent him completely over the edge. He was supposed to have 5 shots (including the flu shot), but our pediatrician felt that was too much trauma for one day, so we have to go back in a month for two more shots. Yay! I can't WAIT to tell Bubba about that. He's going to be SO excited.

Friday was a banner day because I had to take Punkin to the doctor too. I had hoped that he could just see them both at the same time and the nurse said he might be able to, but she made Punkin a separate appointment for about an hour and 15 minutes after Bubba's appointment. I just assumed they would tell our pediatrician that Punkin was being seen, too and he would decide if he wanted to see them both at the same time.

But, no. When we walked out after Bubba's appointment Dr. G said "See you later." I was like, "Yeah, in about 30 minutes." I could tell he was shocked. I had just assumed that it didn't suit him to see them both at the same time but it was obvious at that point he didn't even know Punkin needed to be seen. So, I had to go back and sit in the waiting room for another half hour. And if you don't think that was just a barrel full of joy....

Anyhoo, Punkin has croup, a sinus infection AND an ear infection. She must be a little trouper because I had NO idea about the ears. She hadn't complained a single time. Also? She got a flu shot, too.

On Saturday, while Punkin and I relaxed (read: she took a nap and I read Atonement), Mr. Daddy and Bubba went on a little excursion to Scull Shoals.

On the way out there, they noticed several vapor trails in the sky, all grouped together. It looked as though a large rocket had been launched and then they spotted this:

It was a large jet being escorted by 6 fighter jets. There were two other fighter jets almost immediately behind these. Immediate thoughts turned to Air Force One, but G. Dub was in Bahrain this weekend. Does Dick Cheney get this kind of attention? Any ideas, guys? Definitely weird.

But back to the main story. Scull Shoals began as a frontier settlement in 1792 and the first paper mill in Georgia was built there in 1811. Scull Shoals became a bustling little town, but located right on the Oconee River, it was subject to numerous floods. By the early 1900s, most of the residents moved on to more prosperous areas and the little town quietly became a ghost town.

The site of the town became part of the Oconee National Forest in 1959 and there have been recent efforts to reclaim the area, as you can see if you clicked the link above. There are plans for hiking trails and the like. Bubba proclaimed it the "coolest thing I've ever seen." It does look pretty interesting so maybe next time Punkin and I will go too. Here are some photos for your enjoyment:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Right Stuff

"Very few people who are supposedly interested in writing are interested in writing well. They are interested in publishing something… They are interested in being a writer, not writing… If this is what you are interested in, I am not going to be much use to you. I feel that the external habits of the writer will be guided by his common sense or his lack of it and by his personal circumstances; and that these will seldom be alike in two cases. What interests the serious writer is not external habits but what Maritain calls, “the habit of art”; and he explains that “habit” in this sense means a certain quality or virtue of the mind. "-- Flannery O'Connor

In my very first post I said that part of the reason I started this blog was because all my life, every time someone asked me what I wanted to "do" with my life, I would usually say that I wanted to be a writer. But, aside from a self published newspaper when I was about seven or eight and a couple of short stories in middle and high school, I've never written anything.

In college I was an English major and so of course I wrote lots of papers. I got some really good grades and one teacher that I really respected gave me a lot of positive feedback. She also told me that I was an excellent researcher.

And of course now I write pretty much on a daily basis. Mostly letters, but I do also write and edit our newsletter that comes out twice a year.

And I have this blog.

BUT, I have this feeling sometimes, that there's a story down inside me that's waiting to be told. The kicker is, I don't know what it is. I have some characters in mind. I have only the vaguest of plots with no real ending. I once got about ten pages down on paper, but in an act of electronic stupidity I can barely even think about without wanting to puke, I lost that ten pages. I could probably recreate it, but I was really happy with those ten pages and I'm not sure I could ever duplicate it.

I've been reading the blogs of some people who are writing novels, or short stories: Angie at All Adither. Susan at One Woman Show. Jen(?) at Get in the Car!. Joshilyn Jackson over at Faster than Kudzu. They all talk about how much work they put into their writing. They talking about writing query letters. About rejection letters. They talk about how hard it is. Compare it to giving birth.

They obviously want it. Do I? Really?

What's holding me back? Is it laziness? Is it fear? Is it the fear of rejection that keeps me from even getting started? Maybe a little. Which is surprising, even to me, because I'm definitely a "it's better to have loved than lost than to have never loved at all" kind of girl. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, you know? And as Flannery so astutely noted at the top of the page, do I want to be a writer? Or do I just want to be published?

I thought that blogging might spur my creativity. And it does. For blogging. And right now I love blogging. I feel pretty certain that if I start to write any other type of material that my blog will suffer. And I'm not ready to give up my blog yet. Or is this just another excuse?

I don't know. And I'm not expecting an answer, though you are wise, oh internets. Just using you as a sounding board. Thank you for letting me bend your ear.

Updated to add: After reading AndreAnna's comment I wanted to make sure that it was clear that I view blog writing as "real" writing (not that you were implying I don't, AndreAnna, just wanted to clarify). Some of the best writing I've read has been in a blog. And it is often blogs that inspire me to better my own writing, making me think "Man, I wish I had written THAT!"

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens....

Bright copper kettles and oh you get the idea. These are a few of my favorite things. Several people did posts like this one at the end of the year or at the very beginning, but I'm just getting around to mine. I really enjoyed reading everybody else's so I thought I would come up with my own!

As a child I really, really, really wanted blonde hair. Until my mom's hairdresser told me that you don't see many brunettes with blue eyes. That I was special. True or not, it made me feel special. Lo these many years later I'm still embracing my brunette locks (though occasionally with the help of Garnier Nutrisse or whatever brand of hair color happens to be on sale!). And to enhance my chestnut waves, I found this:

And it really works. I especially love the Runway Straight smoothing milk. It makes my hair so smooth and shiny. So I told two friends. And she told two friends and so on.....

I have fine hair. Which, okay, fine. But that means I have fine eyelashes, too. I've bought into every mascara marketing campaign that Madison Avenue has dreamed up. And can I just ask how Maybelline Great Lash keeps getting voted America's #1 mascara? Every time I've used it I look like I have tarantulas sitting on my eyelids. But then. THEN, I found this:

The rubber brush coats every lash evenly to "define every lash!" And there are NO CLUMPS! Just the other day I was talking to my supervisor and she commented on how great my lashes looked and wanted to know what brand I use. She actually said my lashes looked...gasp...PERFECT! Now I'm taking my lashes to fabulous lengths!

I've never been a big user of "utensils" or "extras" in applying my cosmetics -- no eyelash curler (at least not after I seriously pinched my eyelid one time), no lip liners (remember the Henri Bendel debacle?). I've never like using a sponge to apply my foundation -- the coverage was never right and it seemed like a big waste of makeup, just soaking there into the sponge. But my mom started trying to sell me on a foundation brush -- she had bought one from Clinique -- so I gave it a try. And I love it. It gives my foundation such a smooth finish. No lines and even coverage. Isn't that what we're all looking for? I'm easy, breezy, beautiful.

Yes, I realize that all of these are about my appearance. I'm vain. Sue me.

Anyhoo. Another thing I discovered this year was a little more, um, shall we say, refreshing?

These were perfect. Not too sweet. A little tart. Perfect for a summer evening. Unfortunately, I discovered that these have been discontinued. That explains why I haven't been able to find them lately. Dang! I'm living the high life...or I was.

And that's it. Or at least that's all I can think of. Is there anything you discovered this year that you want share with us? Come on! Get a little closer! Don't be shy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Glimpse into Our Exciting Lives!!

Did you guys see THIS ? Or THIS ?
I.CANNOT.WAIT.FOR.COLLEGE.FOOTBALL.TO.START!! Okay, okay, I know it just ended, but with a ranking like that? That's something to be excited about. Now if I could just get tickets for next season!

Some miscellaneous things that we've been doing and things that have been said around our house lately:

Not long ago I was sitting with Bubba when he announced that I was going to have a baby boy. "Oh, really?" I replied, secretly hoping he didn't have some kind of psychic abilities. "Yes," he responded. "When I get married my mommie is going to have a baby boy." "Your wife, you mean?" I queried. "No," he said simply. I'm not going to have have a wife, just a mommie." Poor, poor girl.

On Saturday, Bubba informed me that when he got married he wasn't going to change ANY diapers. His mommie was going to do it. Here we go again. How very Oedipal! I tried to explain to him that mommies and daddies change diapers and that it would really be in his best interest to change a diaper -- especially if he wanted to have any more children. He was not convinced.

Punkin still has one higgie at bedtime (I say as I hang my head in shame). The other day I found another one in a dresser drawer and gave it to her. She had one in each hand. As her daddy walked by the door she crowed "Daddy! I have a different higgie!" He replied, "Something tells me that if you can SAY I have a different higgie, that you don't actually NEED a higgie." She was not convinced.

Mr. Daddy, Bubba, and I have been playing Yahtzee for the past two nights. Bubba saw it on a shelf and insisted we play. Of course, he loses interest very quickly, but last night Mr. Daddy and I played a full game. For the record, you know, just in case any one cares, I WON, I WON, I WON, I WON! Tonight as Bubba's interest started to wane he started flicking our dice after we rolled. "No, Bubba!" Mr. Daddy scolded. "You don't touch people's dice. That would get you shanked in the joint."

Punkin was having a tantrum about something one night. She kept saying "I want it. I want it" over and over. Finally, I said "Well, you can't always get what you want, but if you CRY sometimes, you might find you get what you need." That's what Mick said, right? I mean, surely he wrote that song when his kids were small? Right?

You can see we live exciting lives around here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Girls, Interrupted

I've had some deep thoughts on my mind the last couple of days. Some of you might have heard the story of the missing hiker here in Georgia, Meredith Emerson. Her story has made the national media and unfortunately, the outlook for her safe return is grim.

In case you don't know about Meredith, she disappeared New Year's Day while hiking in Vogel State Park. She and her dog were hiking up Blood Mountain, a trail that connects with the Appalachian Trail. Other hikers reported seeing her talking to an older man that day and he has since been arrested for her kidnapping and murder.

The part of this story that hits home for me is that my family and I have hiked that trail many, many times. It just seems wrong that something so horrible could happen in such a beautiful spot. A spot frequented by nature lovers. People who are usually kind and generous. In our years hiking in that spot, we've struck up numerous conversations with other hikers as we stopped to catch our breath or take in a particularly spectacular view. Once when climbing we somehow forgot to bring water -- don't ask me why because I don't remember the particulars of how we managed to be so dumb. But a man and his companion heard us lamenting our stupidity and graciously offered to share their limited water supply with us.

I know our parents have drilled into us from the time we were small -- don't talk to strangers. But the older we get, I think the less inclined we are to follow that advice. I'm sure that Meredith thought this man was "safe." Even on New Year's Day there lots of other hikers on the trail. He was a fellow hiker. He had a dog with him. Even in my mind those things give him legitimacy. Would I have spoken to him had I been hiking alone? I don't know. Maybe.

And there's another girl missing in my town. Similar story. A female graduate student, Cayle Bywater, completely and utterly disappears on December 29th. Friends found her dog running loose, the door to her house open, and her keys and wallet on top of her car. Although the cases are eerily similar, the police don't believe there is a connection, though they are investigating the possibility. Cayle's case is complicated by the fact that she is bipolar and friends and family worry that she has stopped taking her medicine and may have wandered off. The last people to see her were some families playing in a local park. They noted that she looked disoriented and that she was looking for her dog, but they don't know where she went after that.

I lost Bubba once, when he was about three. It was only for about two minutes in Wal-Mart, but it seemed like an eternity. My heart stood still and everything was moving in slow motion yet sped up at the same time. Nobody was moving fast enough for me. They didn't seem to feel the sense of urgency that I felt. My body couldn't keep up with my brain. I felt like I was going to die. I thought, "This is it. This is how it happens. Someone has taken him by the hand and walked out the door with him and I will never see him again." The whole rest of my life flashed before my eyes in that moment. How would I live without him? How would I get up and go on the next day? How would I ever return to any semblance of normal life? But he was found, in the arcade of course. And I was immediately angry with him for running off and so glad to see him at the same time. I may have hugged and spanked him at the same time.

So I'd just like to ask that if you pray, please pray for the families of Meredith Emerson and Cayle Bywater. Please pray for Cayle's safe return. If you don't pray, please take a moment to think of these families and their enormous pain. And go give your kids an extra hug and kiss.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Here She Comes to Save the Day!!

Have you ever had a day where your patience is this short? If you haven't, frankly, I don't want to hear about it. Today has been one of those days.

I've talked a little bit about how rarely I get to enjoy our church service. We have a "cry room" but frankly, it makes me want to cry just to contemplate going in there. Punkin used to be pretty well behaved when we went in there -- it was the OTHER kids that drove me nuts. The room is pretty big and it has a very large screen tv with a closed circuit feed of the mass. There are very few actual babies that come to the cry room. Most are toddlers and some preschoolers. It is my opinion -- and maybe I'm wrong -- but I don't think the cry room is where you go to let your kids act like hooligans. To me, it's where they go to learn how to behave in big church, but if they happen to get upset then no one else gets upset because we're all parents. But I swear, some parents there let their kids run around and yell and even if you turn up the tv to top volume you still can't hear the service.

I'm really UP TO HERE with going in there. So, today I thought it would be a good idea to bring Punkin to big church. I brought snacks. I brought a coloring book and crayons. I brought a babydoll -- a quiet one. And everything was great for about 10 minutes until I tried to substitute a red crayon for a blue one. Punkin went ballistic. No amount of shhhhhshing did the trick. So, off to the cry room we went. Where she proceeded to go ballistic again. She flung herself to the floor because I had goldfish instead of Cheerios. So, Punkin and I spent our time sitting outside in the warm sunshine, mass unattended.

And then, when we got home, Mr. Daddy allowed me to take a rare nap without making me feel like I was some kind of degenerate for wanting to sleep during the day. But, guess who refused to sleep? If you guessed Punkin, you'd be right. While I attempted to nap she sat in her bed and sang every song she knows and periodically kicked her wall. I slept a little, but

I hate days like today. I can actually feel how short my fuse is. I know how unreasonable I'm being....but the frustrations get the better of me and I snap at someone before I realize what I've done.

But a little relief is on the way. A month or so ago, Mr. Daddy did a home improvement project for my mom and stepdad and as a thank you, they gave us a gift card to Outback and a "coupon" for free babysitting. So, tonight we're going out. I'm going to have a steak. Without kids. And I might even have a beer. I'm wild, aren't I? But maybe, just maybe, my fuse will be just a little bit longer when I get home. Here's hoping!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I Got A Feelin' Called a Meme...

Way back in 2007, you know, last week, Tootsie Farklepants over at Vintage Thirty tagged me for a meme. Is it just a coincidence that meme is me-me? Cause that's what meme's are usually about -- me! Or you, if it's your blog.

So anyway, the theme of this meme (a rhyme!) is 7 Random Things about me. Well, I'm all about multitasking -- hey, I'm a mom. Show me a mom who isn't all about multitasking! -- so I'm going to combine this meme with another installment in my race towards completion of my "100 Things."

Here are the rules for the meme:
Link to the person who tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
Share 7 facts about yourself.
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

You know what? For probably only the 2nd or 3rd time in my life, I'm going to break the rules. I'm not tagging anybody. Yeah, I'm being a real rebel. But, there's a rash of memes running around and I don't want anybody accusing me of giving them "the meme," so if you want to be tagged, you can hereby consider yourself tagged.

So here we go:

70. In the summer between 10th and 11th grade (also known as the summer of `89), I spent two weeks in Mure-cho, Japan in a sister city exchange program. I stayed with a family in which only one person spoke English, but it was an amazing experience and I had an opportunity to meet some really great people.

69. I love sushi. In fact, I had my very first sushi while in Japan -- made from a fish I caught! How awesome is that? The only thing I don't like about sushi is wasabi. I really hate it when they hide just a tiny bit of wasabi under your sashimi. Why do they want to go and do that to a girl? Oh, and I really don't like uni, which will forever be known in my mind as "pond scum." Blech.

68. In February of 2002, Mr. Daddy and I spent Mardi Gras in Mamou, Louisana. We drank a beer in Fred's Lounge and I danced with an octogenarian with 10 bras draped around his neck! (and yes, there are pictures!) Mardi Gras in Mamou is VERY different from Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but if you ever get a chance, you MUST go.

67. In December of 1990, right after my parents' divorce, my mom and I spent two weeks at Christmas in Bangkok, Thailand, with my brother, who lived there two years as a missionary. We traveled to Chiang Mai in the mountains and Hua Hin on the coast. Thailand is a beautiful country, but full of contradictions -- beautiful architecture on one corner, leprous amputees on the other.

66. I used to really hate my ears. They stick out a little and in 5th grade we had a picture made using a very dark background. My hair was dark too, and permed of course, and it kind of blended into the background. All you could see was my face an my ears. One of my meaner classmates called me "Dopey" and that was it. I would never, ever, ever wear my hair up or in a ponytail. I was in college before I developed the self confidence to get over myself!

65. I was born with long fingernails and when I was only hours old I scratched my face severely. I wish I could find the picture so you could see what a number I did on myself. In my baby book, my mom noted that I looked like I had been "born and bred in a briar patch." To this day I have a very small scar on my cheek.

64. Once when my brother and I were playing I fell and cut a gash in my eyebrow. In the emergency room the nurse almost shaved my eyebrow in preparation for stitches, but at the last minute the doctor came in and stopped her. He told her that sometimes eyebrows don't grow back. Whew! That was a close one!

63. I ran up and kissed a New York City Fireman who was marching in the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in Savannah, Georgia. This was Mr. Daddy-approved, by the way. It's tradition, in fact!

62. I couldn't whistle until I was in seventh grade. I used to have a very, very, large gap between my front teeth and I think that was the cause. In seventh grade I got braces and immediately learned to whistle.

61. When I was growing up I was always very shy about talking to my mom about stuff, so I would write her a note whenever I felt the need to talk to her about something. She would write me back. It was a good way to communicate, I think. Low pressure. For me AND her!

So there we go. 10 more things.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's In Her Genes

I commented on someone else's blog today -- was it today? Lord, my days are confused! -- that Punkin looks nothing like me. People have alternately said that Bubba looks like I spit him out or that he's my twin, but Punkin? Hardly anything of mine. She DID get my dimples and originally had my blue eyes, but though the dimples remain the blue eyes have slowly turned green like her dad's. I mean, look at these pictures of Punkin next to her Daddy:

But there is one other thing of mine that she inherited -- my love of food. And eating. The child will eat anything. And she'll eat a lot of it. And whatever I have she wants some of it, which makes me nuts. Over the holidays, if she caught me snacking on something, she had to have some too. That reminded me of something my mom used to say to us as kids "If I had some doo doo, you'd want some too!" She and I had a good laugh about that on New Year's Day. I think she's secretly pleased that I'm getting my comeuppance!

But I've always loved food. My dad's side of the family are notorious for it, though my mom is an excellent cook and loves as good meal as much as I do. Even as a child my mom would let me order whatever I wanted at restaurants -- steak, even! -- because she knew I would eat what I ordered.

And I plan my vacations around food. Around where we're going to eat. I got a little peeved at Mr. Daddy on our trip to Dollywood because he chose a restaurant that didn't suit me. He chose it because it wasn't very crowded, but in my eyes that just means it's not any good. My dad owned a restaurant for years and he always said two things: 1) if a restaurant's not busy, it's probably not very good and 2) never trust a skinny cook! I didn't get a look at the cook at this place, but we should have known something by the lack of crowd. So I was disappointed. We don't get to go out to restaurants very often, so I like to make them count!

But I do worry a little about Punkin's relationship with food. Mine has always been fairly healthy, for the most part. My mom didn't keep junk food in the house and none of us are sweets eaters. My biggest problem is portion control. If something is delicious, I just have to have a little more. And a little more. And a little more. I mean, I CAN control myself. I have successfully maintained my weight for years. I know the way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more. But I love to eat. It gives me pleasure. And sometimes -- when life is hard, the kids are fussing, there are bills to pay, and I'm tired -- if something is delicious? I'm going to eat it. And I'm probably going to eat it all.

I don't keep junk food in the house for the kids. They eat an apple or a banana for a snack while I'm cooking dinner. I can probably count on one hand the number of times Bubba has had a coke or other carbonated beverage -- though what happens at MeMe's, STAYS at MeMes. But the other night Punkin had THREE helpings of Spaghetti Pie. THREE. And not teeny tiny portions either. Part of me wondered if I should tell her no? But what if she was truly hungry? Or what if it was just delicious and she just wanted more? Part of me loves to see her eat because Bubba eats (and likes) so little.

But I want her to have a healthy relationship with food. I don't want her to be ruled by the scale (which I don't own, by the way -- everyone is better off if I don't know how much I weigh. I monitor my weight by how my clothes fit). But, I don't want eating to be just a way to stay alive. I want her to enjoy food. How do you find that balance?

I guess the best answer is for me to try to be a good role model. But good grief, isn't' there an easier way!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hooray for Dollywood!

I'm going to sum up the rest of our Christmas and trip to Dollywood in one post because this Christmas Retrospective is starting to run long, even to me, so I can't imagine how you folks are feeling about it.

The kids woke early, but not too early, on Christmas morning to their pile of wrapped gifts from Santa. Gifts were opened:

But guess what Santa forgot??? He forgot Punkin's dress up trunk! Santa had bought her three different dress up outfits and he completely forgot to leave them for her. He had stuff hidden all over our house and frankly it's a miracle that he didn't forget more. I've since given her two of the three, one of which is pictured here.

Lest anybody start attacking me in the comments about gender stereotypes and limiting her options to cheerleader and princess, I also bought her a doctor's costume with all the associated accessories. But in my own defense, do you know how HARD it is to find anything other than princess? I mean, good grief. I've read about princess mania, but I had never fully experienced it for myself until this year!

After opening gifts we all piled in the car to head to Dollywood. The trip was mainly uneventful though I did discover one more downside to the DVD player in the car -- no one will nap because they don't want to miss the movie!! We arrived in Dollywood in the late afternoon and had planned to eat dinner in the condo. BUT, this year there were several restaurants open and my dad and step-mom agreed to keep the kids while we went out to dinner, which was unexpected and lovely surprise.

On Wednesday we woke and prepared to head to DOLLYWOOD! Our condo was situated near the trolley line that runs to Dollywood, which we assumed was going to be very convenient. My step mother and I had scoped out the fact that there was a trolley stop right up the street about 100 yards from our condo. So, once everyone was ready, we all -- and by "we all" I mean 2 grandparents, 4 parents, and 4 kids ages 2, 3 1/2, 5, and 6, trooped down to the trolley stop. And by "trooped down" I mean we had to take our lives into our hands and cross a very busy street and walk about 100 yards to the stop. Where we were greeted by a sign telling us "This trolley stop is only open when Dollywood is closed." WHA? So Mr. Daddy and Bubba went into the nearby hotel whereupon they were told that there was another trolley stop another 100 yards down the road. So, we all trooped down to the next trolley stop -- an by trooped down I mean that I carried Punkin because a) she's sooo freaking slow and b) the street was very busy and I didn't trust her not to fling herself into traffic in a fit of toddler pique. Do you know that she weighs almost 30 pounds? When we arrived at the next sign, IT said, "This trolley stop is open from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm." It was currently about 10:45 am! WHA? So, Mr. Daddy took his life into hands again and crossed the busy street to inquire at a real estate office about the $%#$%^ trolley route whereupon he was told that the main trolley station was just around the corner. So, we were ll trooping off to the main trolley station when a trolley roared past us and we saw the driver motioning for us to GO BACK! He stopped at the trolley stop WE WERE JUST AT but very kindly waited while we all ran like goobers back to the trolley. By the time we reached Dollywood we were all exhausted!

BUT, can I just tell you how fun Dollywood was. It's a little confusing how it's laid out, but once you get the hang of it it's a pretty great place. It seems to be staffed almost entirely by retired persons, but they were all so friendly.

One of the highlights of the trip was the train ride at Dollywood. The conductor looks -- on purpose, I'm assuming -- JUST LIKE the conductor from the Polar Express. And he was so nice to Bubba and Punkin. He even had a little stopwatch thingy that would alternate between "Early" and "On Time." (That's what he's showing Bubba in this photo)

Here are me, Bubba, and Punkin on the train:

And the train is VERY realistic. As we rounded the curve we all got a face full of cinders and soot!

The other highlights -- other than the FUNNEL! CAKE! -- were the retro cars:

And the Bees. I mean, just look at these faces:

That night we attended a very late showing of the Dixie Stampede. They won't let you bring cameras in so I have no photos. The kids enjoyed this tremendously, though Bubba did ask "Why did they keep bringing me, bringing me, bringing me, bringing me food?!" It was quite a lot of food, even for an adult and for some reason there were no utensils. Try eating a piping hot Cornish hen with your fingers, sometime!

The second day was spent much like the first, though I did ride THIS roller coaster. I haven't ridden a roller coaster in about 8 years, but it's just like riding a bicycle -- you don't forget how. Just hold on tight and scream!

Although I didn't really expect to, I was disappointed that I didn't get to see Dolly, though her photo is everywhere. Mr. Daddy compared it to Chairman Mao, but I think Dolly is a much more benevolent leader. All in all, it was a good time!