Sunday, November 30, 2008

Six States. Four Days.

We're home. Actually, we got home last night. After encountering a lot of traffic on the way up -- I'm talking coming to a complete stop on the interstate kind of traffic -- and some signs urging us to find an alternate route on Sunday, we decided to come home a day early.

The trip up was uneventful, other than the traffic. And speaking of, seriously fellow-I77 travelers, what is about a tunnel that makes you absolutely freak out? Traffic was stop and go for miles before the first tunnel and then zoooom, off we went.

We did see some snow on the ground in Virginia, but the kids slept through most of it.

In fact, they slept through a lot. Bubba slept through both tunnels, unfortunately, though Punkin was awake for one of them.

We finally arrived in Huntington and went to Mr. Daddy's sister's house. She had the brilliant idea to make s'mores that night and the kids had a blast.

As you can see, a good time was had by all. Especially Punkin, who really knows how to eat. That's chocolate on her face and a graham cracker on her coat. On the whole, though, everybody stayed miraculously clean!

On Thursday, all of Mr. Daddy's siblings, save one, came to the sister's house. Mr. Daddy's mom and her new husband joined us as well. It was great to see everybody. I hadn't seen Mr. Daddy's brother Ratboy in at least two years and we see the others very infrequently. (Remember they all have nicknames). His brother Blub brought his two kids over and they, along with Flip's (the sister) kids, had a great time getting to know their Southern cousins.

The only family missing was Chuck (aka Craig) and his family. A while back I posted about Craig and his daughter Emma, who was recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. As Craig was about to board the plane to travel to the half marathon that he was running to raise money for ulcerative colitis research, he received a call from his wife that Emma was very sick. Emma spent over a week in the hospital with a severe stomach infection and only got to come home right before Thanksgiving. We're so Thankful that she's feeling better, but if you believe in prayer, please say a prayer for Emma and her family.

On Friday we did the Huntington Reminiscing Tour and Mr. Daddy showed Bubba the house he grew up in. And no, it hadn't been uncovered by archaeologists. We went to Stewarts Hot Dogs for lunch, a must for delicious hot dogs and Root Beer when you're in the Huntington area. Ironically, as we were sitting there (it's a drive up restaurant) another car from Athens, Georgia pulled in. Just another Huntington native reliving the good old days.

On Saturday we decided to go home a different route and went down US 23 through Kentucky. I've never been to Kentucky and it was gorgeous. Hwy 23 is the country music highway and periodically there'd be a sign telling you which country music star was from that county. Pretty soon we saw a sign for Van Lear and I knew we were in Loretta Lynn country. We saw a sign pointing the way to her birthplace and Mr. Daddy asked if I wanted to stop. I opted not to, but when I got home and found out that HER BROTHER leads tours at their childhood home, I've been kicking myself ever since. If you've never listened to Van Lear Rose, the album Loretta Lynn did with Jack White of the White Stripes, you are missing out. Below is my favorite. It is a rockin' song.

So that's our trip in a nutshell. We had a good time. And we will be going back, I'm certain. And next time I'm stopping in Butcher Hollow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Count Your Blessings

We're leaving bright and early tomorrow morning for the wilds of West Virginia. Well, not really the wilds, more like Huntington. We're off to see the wizard. No, not really. We're off to see Mr. Daddy's siblings, 4 of whom live there.

We'll be there through Sunday and are anticipating a good time. And we're hoping to see some snow. We southerners are easily pleased.

So, before we head out, I'm going to list some things I'm thankful for this year:

1. My family. Mr. Daddy. Bubba. Punkin. It's a good family. I like them. And I love them.

2. My extended family, all of whom will be celebrating here without me tomorrow. I'll miss you all.

3. Especially my mom, who is more than a mother -- a good friend.

4. My JOB. Thank God for my job.

5. And correspondingly my health insurance.

6. My health, so that I don't need aforementioned health insurance. And the health of my family, of course.

7. A warm place to live.

8. Friends, real-life and bloggy.

Since I've touched on the truly important things, I'm going to leave you with a few trivial things I'm thankful for:

9. Gingerbread Lattes. WITH whipped cream

10. Homegrown tomatoes.

11. Robert Pattinson. Rawr! (Can I just admit here that I was completely against his casting in Twilight but am now and forever more converted. I'd post a picture but pictures just don't do him justice.)

12. Music. Particularly this song. I can't get it out of my head. (I tried to embed it, but youtube wouldn't let me -- go check it out. You won't be sorry.)

I hope you all have a wonderful, stress free Thanksgiving. See you next week!

Monday, November 24, 2008

For the Record, I Never Saw Their Tour Bus.

Did you know I used to be a groupie? Well, not a groupie groupie. I never did anything that I would be ashamed to post here. But there was this band that I liked and I followed them sort of regionally. And let's just say it was only partially about the music. Mostly it was about the boys. Specifically, Todd. There are lead singer girls, drummer girls, bass guitar girls -- you get the picture. I am a lead singer girl. The group was called Spider Monkey and unfortunately, they no longer exist. You can still download their music from their site, though and of course they have a MySpace page.

I saw them for the first time at a festival in Charleston, SC. I went with my group of friends and we had a blast. As an aside, also watching the festival was the lead singer of another of my favorite bands, Jump Little Children. I was like a start struck little girl.

Spider Monkey played Hilton Head several times and I went to Charleston a couple times more. My friends and I got to be such regulars at the show that we started hanging out with the guys after the shows. We even met them once at the Tiki Hut on the beach in Hilton Head, which was kind of cool.

Eventually, of course, I left the party scene and settled down with Mr. Daddy. We moved away from Hilton Head. Occasionally I'd Google Spider Monkey and see what they were up to. One by one they started getting married and then stopped touring. And finally the day came when I got rid of their CDs. There were only a couple of songs on each that I really loved, but it was kind of a bittersweet day.

Years later, when Mr. Daddy and I moved back to Savannah, I heard that Todd (he of Spider Monkey Fame) was now lead singer of another band and they were going to be playing in Hilton Head, about 30 minutes away. I was dying to go see them, but Mr. Daddy didn't want to go. Instead, I dragged my friend Liz along on my trip down memory lane.

We arrived at the club, overdressed and definitely not fitting into the "scene." We were a good 3 or 4 years older than the rest of the clientele. Finally the band took the stage and there he was -- Todd! Singing very heavy metal punk music that made my ears bleed!! I couldn't hear a thing. At the risk of sounding like my grandmother, there was no tune, just yelling. It didn't have a good beat and you couldn' t dance to it.

Finally the band took a break and Todd headed to the bar. As he pushed through the crowd I caught his eye and saw a flash of recognition. "I know you from somewhere, right?" he asked.

"Yeah, I used to be a big Spider Monkey fan. My friends and I followed you guys everywhere."

We chatted for a second. He'd gotten married. I told him I had too. We stood there awkwardly, the music way too loud for conversation. He was still cute, but no longer really my type.

"So, see ya around" he shouted.

"Yeah, see ya!" I shouted back.

"Do you want to stay?" Liz asked.

"Nah. Let's go." As we left I realized that I was trying to recapture too many things that were too long gone. My carefree youth. That summer. Those friends.

Sometimes it's better to just let those memories stay what they are -- memories.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Check Yes or No

Why is it so hard to make friends as adults? As small children we just blithely joined in with whoever was on the playground, easily striking up friendships and not worrying about being rejected. I guess that it's though. As adults we've had a taste of rejection and that makes it so much harder.

Since we've moved back I haven't made any very close friends. That's four years I'm talking about people. Four years. I've got lots of good friends, don't get me wrong. Nicole from Impostor Mom and I have lunch pretty regularly and I would definitely consider Mir to be a friend. But both of these lovely ladies are at slightly different stages than I am and their kids are not the same age as my kids, so it makes getting together a little more difficult. Add to that the fact that we live out in the freakin' boonies and it just makes having a social life a little more different.

Several times recently I've put myself out there in an attempt to make some new friends. There's this mom at Punkin's preschool that I like. Not in THAT way, but like in that I think we could be friends kind of thing. We always end up chatting at the school functions and at the birthday parties and she seems like the kind of gal I'd like to hang out with. It's a bonus that her daughter is the same age as Punkin and she actually lives in the same general direction that we do, which is huge because nobody else at this school lives as far out as we do.

So, back in May, at a birthday party, I got up my nerve and I asked her out. That's right, I suggested a playdate. We exchanged phone numbers and a promise to call, but then we went on vacation and then life just got in the way. I never called her and she never called me.

It was okay though. When we saw each other it wasn't awkward and we still chatted, just as friendly as ever. When she wrote to thank us for the birthday gift that we gave her daughter, she wrote me a special note about how great it was to visit, gave me her email address and suggested that we get together. So, I sent an email and suggested that we get together that weekend. Unfortunately, she had to travel out of town on business and so we had to scrap our plans again.

So, we've done this little dance a couple of times now, each of us suggesting an outing but something getting in the way. And I swear I find myself analyzing these interactions like I used to analyze my boyfriends' phonecalls. Did I look too needy? Was I too excited when she invited me to the movies last weekend? Was I too nonchalant when she said she needed to cancel?

Good grief.

Why can't there be a matching system for friends, like But platonic. I just want someone to say, "Okay, you go with her. And you over there, you be friends with him. And you in the back, you come up and stand next to her and be her friend." It would just be so easy.

But, I must be a glutton for punishment because I have put myself out there yet again. I have extended an invitation to the parents of Bubba's best friend from school. We've only met briefly, but they seem cool and it would be awesome if we could have some couple friends.

I sent a note with Bubba and asked his teacher to send it home in Ethan's folder. Mr. Daddy asked if I wrote "Do you like us? Check yes or no."

So now, we wait. What's the rule for how long I should wait before I call? Three days?

Everybody Cut Loose

I'm a dancing fool. People who know me in real life are probably guffawing right about now. That or thinking "Boy, you think you know somebody."

I've always liked to dance. I took tap/ballet as a child and when I was about 6 or so I actually approached my teacher and asked if I could do a solo routine at the annual recital. Can you believe the chutzpah?

At any school dance I was always one of the first on the dance floor. Not the first, but one of the first.

In college a friend invited me to go line dancing. I scoffed, teased him unmercifully, but went along. And had a blast. Turns out I'm pretty good at it. I even went out the next weekend and bought a pair of cowboy boots because you just can't do the dances as well without some slick soled boots. I went every Thursday night for at least a year and I loved it so much that I wanted to quit my job and dance all the time. Once, my friend Jimmy and I won 2nd place in a country cha cha contest.

And then, about a year before Bubba was born, I got an itch to try some new things. I tried Yoga (harder than you'd think and not at ALL relaxing for me). I tried Tai Chi (not really my bag, -- my step dad hilariously calls it Yahtzee). I tried Belly Dancing (would have loved to keep it up but my schedule didn't really jibe with the lessons). And then I discovered Hip Hop Cardio at the YMCA. And I fell in love again. With hip hop dancing. Yes, me, the least hip hop person you can imagine.

Our teacher started us out with a basic routine and every Monday we'd add a new move. Everybody in the class was pretty good and after several weeks we looked pretty polished. We could have passed for a low0rent version of the Fly Girls (or Fly People, technically, since there were a couple of guys in the class -- though I wouldn't vouch for their "orientation.") But then one night as I was doing a turn I felt really dizzy. Weird.

A week later I took a positive pregnancy test, and well, that was it for me and hip hop cardio. I probably could have kept it up, but there was a fair amount of spinning and the dizziness had thrown me. I was a very nervous, newly pregnant woman, afraid that if I fell I might hurt the baby.

And I haven't really done any kind of dancing since then. In fact, my body hasn't done any kind of rhythmic motion at all. Other than, you know, walking. And lately I've felt an urge to dance. To move.

So if you come across some crazy woman dancing down the street, it's probably me. Just cross to the other side of the street. Or come and dance with me!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Contest!!

My stepsister, Amy, is hosting a writing contest over at her site 3 Questions...And Answers. She's seeking entries about family traditions during the holidays. Go HERE to check out all the rules. If you win, your entry, along with your photo and a link to your site, will be posted at 3 Questions on Thanksgiving Day. Oh, and there's also a $25 Borders gift card in it for you!

But hurry! You only have until 11:59 on November 17th to submit your entry. Sorry for the late notice, but that's what happens when I don't blog for several days!

Good luck!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Next Thing You Know He's Going to Want to Shave

Bubba is growing up. I mean, of course he is. But lately, there have been some definite signs that things are changing.

First there was the kissing. Or the lack thereof, to be precise. One day, out of the blue, Bubba declared that he would give only hugs, no kisses. Whenever we greeted or departed from family members, he'd move in for his hugs loudly declaring "Just hugs, no kisses!"

Even me, his mama, got this treatment, but I played my trump card and told him "I'm your mama. I'm ALWAYS going to kiss you. Deal with it."

And then there was the other kissing. With girls. Or actually, again, the lack thereof. All of a sudden he's coming home from school talking about kissing games that are being played. The girls are chasing the boys and if they catch you, you have to kiss them. Upon recounting the rules, Bubba looks absolutely horrified and disgusted. But you can kind of tell there's just the teensiest bit of interest underneath the indignation.

And just last week, the biggest sign of all. Bubba no longer wants to be called Bubba. It's too baby-ish. And I can't tell you how sad this makes me. Which is really ironic because if you had told me six years ago that I would ever be calling a child of mine Bubba (and we really do call him that), I would have told you you were out of your everlovin' mind.

I used to be supersensitve about southern stereotypes and unfortunately, the name Bubba has been appropriated by the media to represent all that's ignorant, backwards, and uneducated about the south. Which is truly unfortunate because the name Bubba is really just another pronunciation for the word brother. In the old days in the south, siblings often called each other "Brother" or "Sister." In fact, my OWN brother almost always calls me Sister.

And even though we were actually calling Bubba Bubba before Punkin was even a twinkle in her daddy's eye, I love it that Punkin has been calling him Bubba since she started talking.

But ever the little acolyte, Punkin is already bending to Bubba's decree. She'll call him Bubba and then catch herself and then call him by his real name. At first I felt like using my "Mama Privleges" to continue to call him Bubba, but then I realized that I need to try to honor his wishes.

But it's a hard habit to break.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Man of Good Heart

Today I learned of the passing of a good man. Dr. John Stone, one of our 2007 Georgia Writers Hall of Fame Inductees, passed away yesterday. I haven't heard all the details yet, but I was told that he was very recently diagnosed with cancer.

Dr. Stone was an unusual poet. By that I mean that he was a cardiologist by profession, but a poet at heart. He taught at Emory University Medical School in Atlanta for years, became an associate dean there, and was later their director of admissions. During that time he published In the Country of Hearts: Journeys in the Art of Medicine. These twenty-three essays discuss our literal and our metaphorical hearts and he argues that the physician and the poet make use of the same materials.

I met Dr. Stone for the first time in April of 2007. To be honest, I'd never heard of him, not really being a fan of poetry. That changed, however, when Dr. Stone stood up to accept his award. He read us two poems that day. The one that follows was the first. Called Visitation, it describes a visit with his mother, who is in her nineties, at her retirement home.


At Serenity Gardens, winter
has surrounded us. My mother's room
is way too warm for me,

just right for her -- with an extra sweater.
Outside, this uneasy year, her 93rd,
lurches through December.

She is surely serene in this place,
thanks to whatever goodness;
queen of the electronic piano.

Among my chief duties now
I have become her human calendar,
a stay against time, her reach for the past.

Each visit, we review the years.
We sit and we talk, fragile mother,
absent-minded son.

This afternoon, I assemble for her
some semblance of my long-dead
father, the only husband she had.

I tell her his story.
We study his photograph.
Do you remember him, I ask?

She looks again.
No, she answers softly. No.
But isn't he good looking!

She smiles. I chuckle.
In the gathering dark,
we cry a bit together:

I for what she has forgotten,
she for what I remember.

Hearing his soft voice, hearing the rhythms of his speech, made me understand the power of poetry. So much can be summed up in so few words, so few powerful words. In 2008 I purchased one of his books, Music from Apartment 8, and had him sign it for me. It reads "To Leandra, with gratitude for her friendship and in joy."

Thumbing through it tonight, I found this poem. It seems fitting and I'll leave you with it.

How I'd Have It

I'd have no flowers
other than Mozart

A suit -- blue --
not new, but worn

the knees
still in the trousers

for as long
as polyester is

And a fire
and someone there

to thrown on
the oak especially

for the last movement
of the Mozart

As for the mourners
let's have them enter

and pause and peer

over the side
and say mournful

things such as What
A Pity A Pity

And So Old, Too
And then exit all


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, I'm Still Here

This week has been slap full of work. Therefore, my brain is all used up.

Please know that I AM reading all of your blogs, even if I'm not commenting. I'll be back in tip-top commenting form soon. Hope you've missed me!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Drug of Choice

Something that I had been dreading finally happened. Last week was Red Ribbon Week at Bubba's school and the theme for the week was Drug Awareness.

On Friday evening, as Mr. Daddy reached for a beer, Bubba piped up, a sense of urgency in his voice, "Daddy! I know something that can help you! Mr. Counselor at school said that if you drink just one beer it can make you sick! Beer is bad for you, Daddy!"

Guh-reat. But at least we weren't in public when Bubba did this, like we were when I begged my mother, "Please don't get drunk, Mama! Please don't get drunk!"crying and hanging on her as she went into the liquor store to buy a bottle of Sangria. For the record, my mother was NOT a drunk. I can't probably count on one hand the number of drinks I saw her drink when I was a child. But I had a fear of drunk people (a long story) and I assumed that if you drank, you were going to get drunk.

"Bubba, you know, I'm not saying that Mr. Counselor is wrong, but it's okay for grown ups to drink beer. One beer is not going to make a grown up sick. Now if you drink too many, you might, but one is not going to hurt a grown up."

"Did you know that cigarettes are bad and that if you smoke a cigarette in a car it can kill you?" Bubba chimed in.

Having lived through several winters during which car rides were suffered through with the heat blasting, the windows rolled up, and both parents smoking, I felt like telling him that yes, it will kill you, or more correctly, will make you want to kill yourself. However, in the pursuit of absolulte truth I felt I had to correct him. We've told Bubba for years that cigarettes are YUCK (along with the Yankees), but we've never really discussed the health related issues.

"Well, Bubba, if you smoke one cigarette in a car, it won't really kill you. But if you smoke a lot of cigarettes it can make your lungs black and can give you cancer. And that might kill you."

"Why would anybody smoke?" Bubba asked incredulously.

We went into a long discussion about how addictive cigarettes are and how hard it is to quit and how people didn't really know at one time how bad they were for you. But Bubba seemed convinced that cigarette smokers are bad people. I reminded him that his Mimi and his Poppa both smoked at one time, but they had quit a long time ago. I think his position softened a little.

But last night, as we were waiting at the pharmacy for a prescription, I heard Bubba from the back seat "Mommy, look! Look at that man in that car cigarettin'!" revulsion in his voice.

Frankly, I don't care what he thinks about smokers. But don't be messin' with my beer.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween in Pictures. Just Because

Halloween was a rousing success this year. Everybody was into it. Nobody pitched a fit about their costumes, well, at least not on the day of. Punkin ultimately decided to be Tinkerbell and was quite happy.

The trick-or-treating madhouse that was my mom's street last year never materialized this year. Just good clean fun.

Punkin, as Tinkerbell.

Bubba as King Tut's mummy.

Ready to hit the streets.

But you know what? There's a special place in hell for people who get a kick out of scaring children. Children who are not their own I must add because there is a long and noble history in my family of scaring the bejeesus out of us kids. But can you see this guy below?

THIS guy had his yard decorated to the hilt and it was pretty cool. He had a ghost on a wire running across his yard and it would periodically run back and forth. It was pretty spooky. But as Punkin and I approached him, it started to move and Punkin got a little freaked out. The guy called to somebody in the background and asked him to stop the ghost from moving, which I greatly appreciated. Her bravery restored, Punkin walked the rest of the way to the steps by herself. Right when she reached for the candy, a huge blast of fog burst out of a machine right next to her. You have never seen a child so terrified or one run so quickly. I can't prove that he did it on purpose, but the timing was suspicious and he sure did laugh his ass off.

Fortunately Punkin had forgotten about it by the time we approached the next house. And that guy is super lucky she did because I would have hated to have to kick his ass in front of all those kids.