Friday, December 24, 2010

A Gift

I love Christmas music. I mean, who doesn't really? I have a favorite secular Christmas song (Silver Bells) and while I have several that are in the running for a semi-tie for favorite religious Christmas songs, probably my all-time favorite is the Harry Simeone Chorale version of "The Little Drummer Boy."

I love the harmony and the "brum brums," but mostly I love the message. Even the smallest, poorest among us have a gift we can bring -- to God, to the world, to our friends and family.

Merry Christmas!

I hope that this Christmas you learn to recognize the gifts you have to bring and that He smiles at you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Somebody Hand Me a Tissue

I've not been shy here about mentioning some of my "mental health issues." If you're new here, go read here and, to some degree, here.

Well, for those of you playing along at home, I'm off my Lexapro again. I weaned myself this time and have had a much better result. MUCH better. You know what's best about it, though? The tears. The crying. Oh, how I've missed crying. And the sad thing was that I didn't even realize that I was missing it, which is odd since I'm a life-long crier. I'm talking about the sentimental tears. You know the ones -- that ones that come when the Mom in the Publix commercial realizes that the cake the little boy made is for her, not some imagined sweetheart. Or the ones that spring to your eyes when your child gives you a spontaneous declaration of love accompanied by a huge hug.

Of course, my most notorious sentimental cry was over the Mercedes commercial. This one, to be exact. Come ON! How can you NOT cry at that? Its life is flashing before its eyes!

I didn't even realize these tears were missing until I was driving along the other day, singing along to the radio with my kids. All of sudden, my voice and Bubba's rose above the radio in perfect harmony. I was filled with such a swell of love at that moment and all of a sudden my eyes welled.

Wait. what's this? my eyes?!

Since then it's been like unleashing a dam. Everything sets me off. Oh tears! How I missed you. I'm sooo glad you're back. And just in time, too, for Christmas, when the sight of the kids with Santa, every Christmas carol, the Christmas Eve service at church are sure to bring on the waterworks.

I'll be looking at the Christmas tree this year with tears in my eyes. And boy am I glad.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Creepie Crawlies

First off, a note to my step-sister Amy -- just skip this post. Come back tomorrow, but don't read this one. You'll thank me, I promise you.

So, yesterday we were all stuck at home due to a strep diagnosis for Punkin'. We were all just hanging out and doing our own thing. As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed a cobweb hanging from the light fixture over our table. Not having a reputation as an immaculate housekeeper, I wasn't too surprised. I went over to swipe it down when I noticed that it stretched down to the back of one of the chairs as well as over to the curtain on the window.

And that's when I noticed that this cobweb was covered with approximately 100 baby spiders. Yes, I said spiders. Now, granted, they were tiny, but me and spiders just don't gee haw . But I really do hate to kill God's creatures so I've compromised by saying that if a spider is outside, it can live. However, if it's inside, it's gotta die.

My dilemma here, though, was that I wasn't really sure how to get rid of so many tiny spiders at once, so I grabbed the first thing that came to my mind -- I should spray them with something. I grabbed the closest thing to hand -- Windex. Hey, they say it works on zits, right? It's chemicals, right? And chemicals will surely kill spiders. So saith the Lord.

So, I gave them a quick squirt followed by a quick swipe with a paper towel. I managed to get most of them, but a few survived and began to crawl everywhere, including up my arm. I did my trademarked heebie jeebie dance all the while screaming "Aaiaiaiaiaia." Punkin, who was feeling better by this time got a big kick out of my antics, but I was completely freaked out. And that's when I made the mistake of looking behind the curtain.

More spiders. A lot more. I grabbed the Windex again and went in, nozzle blazing. Because these were more contained, they were more easily wiped out. I did more dancing and more "aiaiaiaiai-ing," but I managed to get them all.

I went into bathroom to wash my hands and try to get over my freakout. Bubba, who had been zombified by the computer up until that point, asked me what all the yelling was about. As soon as he heard spiders he wanted to see the site of the massacre.

"They're not there!" he yelled back to me.

"I know," I said. "I killed them all!" It was quiet for a moment and then...

", they're all over the ceiling!"

Y'all. I went back into the kitchen and looked up. It was like that scene from that old horror movie about spiders, the one where at the end the entire town is covered in a spider web. I stared up in horror at what looked like at least 200 baby spiders. I was majorly freaked out, but something had to be done.

I grabbed the Windex again and told Bubba to stand back. I raised the bottle and gave a squirt. At which time 200 baby spiders descended from the ceiling on their webs -- straight onto the top of my head. You have never seen such screaming and dancing around, arms flailing around my head. I managed to reach the broom and then did a quick sweep, managing to catch most of them in the bristles of the broom.

Which I promptly placed outside. And squirted with more Windex, just for good measure.

This morning as I stood over my desk shuffling piles of paper, a spider crawled out from under one stack and across another. I swear to God all I could think of was "That's the momma spider and she hitched a ride here -- on MY BODY!!!!!"

So, now I have a major case of the heebie jeebies. And I'll never look at the scene from Charlotte's Web the same again. You know the one. The one where all her babies fly away at the end. That's not sweet or sad. That's just plain creepy!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nothing Good Comes Easy.

So, I promised a post about our recent camping trip. It's become sort of an annual event -- our winter camping extravaganza. Winter camping is always a dicey enterprise and we don't even DO hardcore camping. I mean, we sleep in a camper. A pop-up, but still, a camper. Some of you might remember this camping trip -- one of the most miserable in my life, but they've generally gotten better and I actually look forward to them now.

It doesn't look like I wrote about last year's adventures, but we went up to Unicoi State Park and had a great time. We froze our butts off the first night, but the second night we cranked up both heaters and actually slept pretty warmly.

This year we went to Enota campground and our pop up had been upgraded from a soft-side pop up with few amenities to a hard-side pop up with a built in heater! So we fully anticipated an easy set up and sleeping warmly.

Getting a campsite set up is always frought with stress, at least for our family. Mr. Daddy is, um, shall we say, easily stressed, and if things don't go just right (and they seldom do!), voices might be raised. A teeny bit. Getting a camp site set up after dark is a completely different animal. There are a lot more opportunities for things to go awry.

When we pulled into the campsite it was pitch dark -- problem number one. Problem number two? It was about 20 degrees outside. Mr. Daddy pulled the camper past the site, getting ready to back the camper into the space. The space for the camper was very narrow and I was dispatched to the back to help guide Mr. Daddy into the spot. All of a sudden, a car pulls up behind us, shining its lights into our face. We waved it around, but it just stayed there. Lights on. In our faces. Mr. Daddy sat there. I waved at the car again and I'm pretty sure my aggravation could be read in my wave. Dude, GO AROUND. The car didn't move. More aggressive waving. Finally, finally, it went around.

An older gentleman (henceforth known as Helpful Older Gentleman, or HOG) got out and walked over. "I'm sorry," he said. "I was trying to shine my headlights on the spot so that you could see a little better," he said kindly. Oops.

We finally got the camper into the spot, with the "help" of HOG who kept yelling things like "get on top of it" -- whatever that means. Mr. Daddy then pulled out the power cord, plugged it into the power pole, and hit the switch to raise the electric pop up.


He hit the switch again. Nothing except a slight groan as the motor tried to work. Awesome. He flipped the breakers on the power box and tried the switch again. Still nothing. HOG, who was still hanging "helpfully" around, offered to pull his car over and hook it up to the camper battery. Once we hooked it up, the pop up, well, popped up. HOG 2 pts, Us, 0.

The kids and I hurried inside and turned on the heater, which began blowing warm air immediately. Ah, heaven. I also set up the griddle to start cooking some hot dogs since it was way past suppertime for all of us. I grabbed the griddle and plugged into the nearest outlet and turned it on. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Now that just didn't make any sense. The lights were on, the heat was on. Why wasn't the outlet working?

"Babe!" I hollered out the door, "The griddle's not working. And I think the heater's blowing cold air now." And wait, were the lights getting dimmer, too?

Mr. Daddy came in and fiddled with the switch on the griddle. He unplugged it and plugged it back in. "Are you sure you've got it plugged in all the way?" he asked. I just stared at him in disdain, not bothering to dignify that question with answer.

"Look," I said. "The lights are getting dimmer." He reached up and flipped them off and then back on, though they were now on in name only. We looked at each other in the near (freezing) darkness. "See!" I said.

"Oh, it's just the ballasts on the lights," he said. "They have to warm back up." "I don't think we're getting any power from the power pole," I said helpfully. At least in my mind it was said helpfully.

"I'm hungry," whined both kids at once.

Mr. Daddy went back outside and began flipping breakers on the power pole, all the while it was getting darker and colder inside the camper.

In and out, flipping switches, turning the heater on an off. Turning the lights on and off. All of us mystified as to why nothing seemed to be working. By this time, Mr. Daddy and I are both in a state. I'm frustrated, hungry and cold. So is he. In nearly fourteen years of marriage you'd think I'd have learned when to keep my mouth shut, but somehow that just hasn't sunk in yet.

In one of Mr. Daddy's forays into the camper to see if anything was working, I "helpfully" pointed out, yet again, that the heater wasn't working.

That was the straw the broke the proverbial camel's back. "I hope y'all are having fun," he said loudly as he walked back outside, "because this is the LAST TIME we are ever going camping!"

It was quiet for a moment. The Punkin said, in a quiet voice, "Really?"

"No," Bubba said reassuringly. "Sometimes people say things when they're mad that they don't really mean."

Mr. Daddy walked back in. "I don't know what the problem is."

"Let's just go to a hotel for the night," I said. "We can't stay here. It's too cold. We'll get it figured out in the morning." At the mention of hotel, both kids went berserk as staying in a hotel is obviously the coolest thing we could do.

"Let me try one more thing," Mr. Daddy said and he headed back out into the cold, though the inside temp and the outside temp had once again reached equilibrium. As he walked out, I might have said, one more time, "I don't think we're getting any power from the power pole."

Mr. Daddy must have agreed with me because he took the extension cord and ran it across the road to the empty campsite across from us. I wasn't aware of what he was doing, as I was watching my kids eat a healthy supper of potato chips and capri suns in the near darkness in the camper. All of a sudden -- LIGHTS! The kids and I actually cheered.

Mr. Daddy came back in and said "Well, you were right." WHA? Somebody please note this date on a calendar. It turns out we weren't getting any power from the power pole. We ended up having to call the campground's after hours number because by this time it was nearly 9:00. A very nice man came to help us and he and Mr. Daddy poked around out in the dark, switching breakers and futzing around.

Finally, the guy located the problem. The power pole? The one that stood about three feet tall with the large breaker box nailed to the side? That was not the power pole we were supposed to use. No, the correct one, the one that worked, was only about 8 inches high and was literally located at ground level next to the water pump. In the dark it was nearly impossible to find and we being somewhat familiar with the effects of mixing water and electricity, I don't think any of us thought to look for the power panel next to the water pump.

Finally, the lights came on for good. And the heat. At that point I began to laugh. Mr. Daddy looked at me like I'd lost my mind and said "It's not funny!" Oh, but it was. I laughed and laughed and eventually he joined in. Hot dogs were cooked and consumed. A beer or two was had. As we snuggled down under the covers and prepared to go to sleep, Punkin piped up, "Will we ever go camping again, Daddy?"

"Yes," he admitted grudgingly, "but you can bet we're getting this night for free!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Taking it REALLY public

This is a test. This is only a test of the blogging broadcast system. I'm taking my blog public -- very public. Like Facebook public.

I'm not gonna lie, it's kind of scary, but it's kind of exciting too. I'm hoping it makes me write more. We'll see. Santa, that laptop I asked for would make thing sooo much easier. And I've been a very good girl.

Since today is Friday, I'll post one of my haikus below.

A half day today,
Freedom to nap, drink cocoa.
Time with the kiddos.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Did any of y'all have any age-related "rules" when you were growing up?

Like, I wasn't allowed to get my ears pierced until I was 9. Or, I wasn't allowed to wear any makeup at all until 6th grade and then I was only allowed to wear a little eye shadow and some blush. When I finally was allowed to wear mascara, I wasn't allowed to wear black, only brown. I wasn't allowed to date until I was 15 and then it had to be a double date. Single dates had to wait until I was 16.

I think most of these were based on the notion of what "good" girls do and don't do. "Good" girls don't wear too much make-up and I distinctly remember my mom telling me that only trashy girls wear black mascara. When she was younger good girls didn't get their ears pierced (remember Sandy from Grease?).

But I wonder if these sorts of rules still apply? I mean, sure, there are things I definitely won't allow Punkin to do -- no short shorts or belly baring shirts while she lives in my house.
Most of these rules worked out pretty well for me, though, and I had planned on instituting some of them in my own home. The makeup rules will definitely stand and in fact I may up it to 7th grade. I'm not even sure Punkin will be allowed to date -- we'll see when the time comes. (Kidding! Of course she'll date.) (With her dad and I in the backseat.)(Kidding again! Mostly.)

But as I mentioned yesterday, Punkin has really been angling to get her ears pierced. At first I thought about making her wait, but then I didn't really have a good reason to. Pierced ears no longer equates to trashy and even though it squicks me out to see a baby's ears pierced that has more to do with the thought of actually doing that and dealing with the resultant screaming child than any aesthetic or moral reasons. So, I told her we would go this weekend.

Whereupon she promptly changed her mind. Fear, of pain mostly, has changed her mind. I'm not completely surprised, but to be honest, I am a little disappointed. It's seems like sort of a rite of passage, you know? And I looked forward to picking out some earrings with her. Heck, I even looked forward to helping her care for them.

But I didn't push her. I told her she didn't have to if she didn't want to. We'll see what happens.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm Baaaack.

Whoa! I haven't posted since October 26th?!? I think that might be a record. (Well, I don't know if it's a record)

Okay, very quick digression to explain the parenthetical remark up there. There's an old joke about a guy who was trying to steal some albums from a record store. In order to sneak them out of the store, he stuck one in the front of his pants. As he was leaving the store, the manager stopped him.

"Excuse me sir, is that a record in your pants?"

"Well, I don't know if it's a record...."

Hence the remark. Now anytime anybody says anything about a record, that's mine and Mr. Daddy's standard comeback.

Things are good here. Life is busy. Very, very busy.

We've taken a wintry camping trip (which deserves a post of its own), Bubba turned 8 (also post-worthy since we had a house full of 7 and 8-year-old boys). Bubba lost two teeth in two weeks.

Punkin wants to get her ears pierced. She refuses to tell me what she wants for Christmas, insisting that she'll be happy with whatever Santa brings her. I hope she's telling the truth.

Anyway, I've missed you guys. If you see Santa, please tell him I want more time. And yes, I totally got the idea from Burgh Baby. But hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

Blech. Was that depressing, or what? Sheesh, if I weren't depressed before, I would be after reading that. So let's lighten things up a bit, shall we?

Things are a bit sunnier here today, in the metaphorical sense, and I realized that I hadn't shared with y'all one of the funniest things that's happened lately.

Punkin, not surprisingly (to me anyway), has turned out to be pretty smart. She is doing really, really well academically in school -- and behaviorally too, but that's another update for another day.

Periodically the teachers give the students benchmark tests. For kindergarten, the students are required to draw a little picture and then write a sentence about it. Punkin has been working on sight words since the beginning of September and I've seen her attempts at spelling come home on other projects -- "rabit" for "rabbit" and "ruod" for "road" -- both pretty excellent attempts I thought.

So, when we got her report card it included her benchmark test. Her picture was a self-portrait with a frowny-face, though more sad than angry. There was something smudgy next to her, but I couldn't tell what it was since I was looking at a photocopy. Her sentence below it read "I had a bad daeee. I hurt my knee." Everything was spelled perfectly except for "day."

"Punkin," I exclaimed, "this is fantastic! You did such a good job writing your sentence! I'm so proud of you!! But I have a question. What's this smudgy thing here beside you?"

"Oh, that's my bike," she replied.

"Your bike?"

"Yeah, I was going to write 'I had a bad day because I fell off my bike and scraped my knee' but that was too many words. So I changed it."

That's one smart cookie.

Monday, October 25, 2010

All The News That's Fit to Print

It's been pretty quiet around here, I know. I'm sorry for that. The truth is that it's been really hard for me to write lately, feeling like I have, which is mostly depressed.

I tried for a long time to figure out what was wrong with me but I can't come up with anything that feels like the "right" answer. We decided not to go forward with the house thing right now. If we wait just 8 more months we'll be in a much better position financially. And while I'm glad we're waiting, it was still a disappointment and why I didn't want to get my hopes up about a house again.

I had to quit boot camp. You can read all the reasons why over at Bodies in Motivation. I'm thinking about going back one day a week while finding other ways to exercise other days, but even the thought of going back doesn't cheer me up.

I was talking to Mr. Daddy about my feelings about boot camp and I said "I've been in a funk since I had to quit" and he said "You're ALWAYS in a funk." And that makes me sad because up until recently I was feeling pretty darn good. I don't want to seem like I'm always in a funk.

Lately I'm too busy. Overwhelmed. Underwhelmed. Frustrated. Blech.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Princess Who Saved Herself

One of the best new kids' songs that I've come across is The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. If you haven't heard it before, go here to listen to it now for free. It's a wonderful antidote to the helpless princesses we and our daughters are constantly bombarded with.

Be sure to listen until you get to the phone call in the middle. That cracks my shit up every time.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Can Play Dirty Too

Katie's Love Thursday Post over at Can't Get There From Here reminded of a dirty, low down trick I played recently. I did it for good reasons and I don't regret it, but I do feel slightly guilty about it.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I went to visit AndreAnna in Iowa last weekend. For the record, I had a blast. AndreAnna is one of the funniest, most down to earth women I've ever met. Our visit was great -- it just felt comfortable from the get-go and it was like we'd known each other forever, which if you consider the fact that we've been reading each other's blogs for about three years now, we kind of have known each other for a while. Oh, and her kids and her husband are pretty great too. They all made me feel so at home, especially Charlotte with her hugs and her spontaneous declarations of love.

But anyhoo, on Saturday AndreAnna and I drove into Chicago to hang out with Samantha of Campenette, Katie from Pseudostoops, Sara of Belle Plaine, Anne of Annabelle Speaks, and Mandi of McMama's Musings -- cool ladies, one and all! We went out to dinner and then went to a bar nearby where we were waited upon by the most fabulous pair of gay waiters I've ever had the pleasure to know.

An aside -- if you're ever feeling down or not so good about yourself, go out with a group of girlfriends and find yourself a good gay waiter. There's nothing that will make you feel quite so fabulous.

Anyway, back to my dirty trick. On Sunday, AndreAnna dropped me off at the airport -- no mean feat since we got lost twice because we were too busy talking and not paying attention to signs. I called Mr. Daddy from the airport to let him know I was there and we immediately got into an argument.

See, Mr. Daddy has house fever. Again. I think it's sort of like malaria? You can never really be cured of it? And he'd been calling me all weekend talking about this house and texting me pictures of it and I'm all the way in Chicago and can't do squat about it. Plus, I'm loathe to get my hopes up again because we all know how this keeps turning out, right? I get all excited about a house only to find out that there's nobody out there willing to loan us any money until at least next spring. So, I'm testy, is what I'm saying.

We get into a shouting match and we both hang up in anger. I started feeling remorseful and did not want to fly home in the middle of an argument. That's like asking the gods to please make my plane crash, right? I mean, that's like headline news right there. "Wife killed in plane crash. Husband remorseful because of fight before takeoff."

So, I called back. He wouldn't answer. Called again. Straight to voicemail. Called again. No answer. Texted him to TAKE MY CALL. Nothing. Called again. No answer.

Now, I'm starting to get pissed. And then I did it. The thing I feel guilty about. I sent him the following text:

"You're going to feel bad when my plane crashes and you've been so mean to me."

In a nanosecond after hitting send, my phone rang.

"You knew that would get a response, didn't you?" he said, kind of laughing.

"Yep!" And that's why I did it. I admit, it was a low down dirty trick. But I really didn't want to get on that plane without making up. Just in case. What if the worst case scenario DID happen? I certainly didn't want our last words to have been angry ones.

So, I played dirty. And then I told him that I loved him. It might not have been my proudest moment, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Elsewhere and a Musical Interlude

My latest post is up at Bodies in Motivation. Go check it out, please!

On Fridays I'm going to start sharing some of my favorite music with you. It might be something new, something old, or it might be some awesome kids music I've stumbled across. This week it's Guster's Do You Love Me.

Enjoy! And enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's Exhausting Being Loved that Much

I haven't talked to much about Toby around these parts since he became a family member. And I'm really not sure why because the little rascal delights me on a daily basis. I was the one who, before Sweetpea died said, "When Sweetpea goes, that's it for us! No more pets!"

But I was also the same one trolling Craigslist for dogs within a week of Sweetpea's death. I felt kind of disloyal, but I missed having an animal around the house. I would love to have a cat, but Bubba's allergies rule that out, so I got the next best thing -- a lap dog.

And Toby is a total lovehound. That dog loves people more than any other dog I've ever seen. If you're sitting down, he will be in your lap in a second, shoving his nose under your hand to make sure you're petting him. The other night I joked that his motto is "If you have time to set, you have time to pet." And even Mr. Daddy, who likes to groan that this dog was my idea, loves him. He's got such a sweet face that you just can't resist him.

But when we came back from vacation, something weird happened. Toby became obsessed with me! I think his new found devotion stems from the fact that I alone picked him up from the dog-sitter's house when we got back from vacation. Although he got along famously with her two dogs (and very famously with the large, female Rottweiler who was also a guest there, if you know what I'm sayin' and I think you do) (wink, wink, nudge nudge), I think when I showed up he thought "Aha! She's come back for me! She does love me after all!"

Because since then, this dog will not leave me alone. If I go to the bathroom, he's sitting right outside with his nose wedged under the door, whining for me. Same goes for when I'm putting the kids to bed. If I step outside for more than a minute he greets me I return as though I've been gone for years. If I'm lying down, he's all up in my grill. After petting him for what I deem a sufficient amount of time I literally have to hide my arms so that he won't keep pushing his cold, wet nose under my hand or arm.

Since we've been married, Mr. Daddy has always done voices for our pets. Sweetpea had the cutest voice ever, but unfortunately I'll never hear it again. It just didn't feel right to assign her voice to anybody else. Our cats both had voices. Occasionally, Mr. Daddy will bust out with Pigger's voice and I'll be like "What's Pigger doing here?" It took him a while to find Toby's voice, but lately he's taken to having Toby call me M'Lady, which cracks me up completely. It very much reminds me of my Medieval Lit classes and the whole notion of Courtly Love. I'm quire sure Toby would write me a poem if he could.

Yes, it is exhausting sometimes to be the object of this much affection, but it's also pretty nice to have one creature on this earth that loves you unconditionally.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yes? No? Maybe?

So....yeah, I suck.

But, y'all, I have been SO busy. Since I last posted Punkin has turned five, I've been going to boot camp two nights a week, and we go to church on Wednesday nights. Nobody reads blogs on Friday (so they say) and my weekends have all of sudden been consumed by College Football (woot!), birthday parties, and sleepovers.

Also, there's been a lot of stuff brewing in my head and when that happens I find that it becomes harder and harder to just sit down and write. In part because I'm still struggling to define my thoughts about this issue and in part because it will be nearly impossible to convey the wild swings my brain takes whenever I start to think about this. But, the only way through it is to do it, so here goes.

Y'all remember the whole saga about the Autism specialist to whom Punkin was referred, right? That's a lot of links, so if you don't feel like reading it I'll sum it up for you:
  • daughter was referred to Autism specialist at 4 year well visit, though to be high functioning Asperger's
  • called Specialist and found out there was a lengthy wait AND they don't take our insurance. Cost: $350. High but do-able. Began wait for appointment.
  • 9 months later, called by Specialist. Daughter's behavior had vastly improved so we weren't sure what to do.
  • Interwebs (and gut) said we should take the appointment just to see what they had to say.
  • Found out that testing had increased to $1400 and they still didn't take our insurance. The cost plus our feeling that she was "okay" caused us to decline our appointment.
Fast forward another several months. Punkin's behavior continues to improve, though she still has issues with being extremely shy and still occasionally prone to meltdowns. However, at her 5 year well visit, her pediatrician followed up with us in regards to last year's referral. I confidently explained that I didn't think Asperger's was her problem and that we had declined the appointment.

At this point he asked me about a gazillion questions regarding her behavior and by the end of the questioning, somehow, I was again concerned that she DID have Asperger's. The pediatrician's main concern was what he called her "lack of warm fuzzy feelings about her peers."

I immediately thought of all the times Punkin has come home saying "No one will play with me on the playground" or "My friends don't like me." In her 5 short years, this has happened more than you'd think. I've also noticed that while she's friendlier than she used to be to kids she encounters on playgrounds, etc., she doesn't actually play with these kids as much as she plays beside them. For those of you unfamiliar, children with Asperger's often have difficulty with social relationships because they don't know how to read facial expressions and social cues.

Is it Asperger's or is she just shy?

I asked her parapro what happens on the playground and she said that Punkin would come up to her and complain that it was too hot, that she didn't feel like playing.

Was it really too hot or did Punkin just not know how to navigate the social jungle that is the playground?

Then, last week Punkin got a "card pulled" at school for yelling at a little boy. I followed up with her teacher to see what had precipitated the yelling. Punkin was playing a game with a little boy and he wasn't following the rules. Punkin got very upset and yelled at him. More than once. Children with Asperger's are big rule followers and tend to get very agitated if others aren't doing what they're supposed to do.

Is it Asperger's or is she just a rule follower like her mom?

The truth of the matter is, I don't know. But I've spoken with her teachers and we have an appointment with the Assistant Principal, Punkin's teacher, and the School Psychologist next Tuesday to begin the process of having her evaluated. I'm going into this meeting feeling very confused because honestly, I don't know the answer to any of my questions above. And, if my conversation with Mir the other day is any indication, we may not really know anything after the evaluation because it is sometimes difficult to determine at this age what is Asperger's and what is just "being a 5 year old."

There are some (hi, mom!) who wonder why I'm doing this at all. Heck, even I sometimes wonder it, especially when I see my little girl smiling and telling jokes and acting goofy. But there are also other times when I feel like she is unhappy. That there is a social aspect missing from her life. So, I'm doing this because I want to do what's best for my child. I want her to be the best Punkin she can be and I want her to be her most confident self.

So, we have her evaluated. If there's nothing "wrong," we've lost nothing. If it turns out she does have Asperger's, well, then we'll go from there. But at least we'll know.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Give Me a Break!

My latest post is up over at Bodies in Motivation. And I promise I'll be back here soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Deep Thoughts

It seems like a lot of people I know are going through some heavy stuff right now. Having been through some tough times myself, I'm well aware how easy it is to get sucked down into the muck. To despair that things will ever get better. To let one negative thing send me into a spiral of depression.

I'm about to get a little religious up in here, but I hope you will continue to read it even if you aren't religious because I think there is a message here that transcends religion and can touch everybody with a heart.

In Sunday School a couple of weeks ago we watched a video called Whirlwind by Rob Bell, from his Nooma series. We've watched a whole series of this guy's videos and he thinks about religion in a way that I've never encountered. He brings it into real world terms with real world applications. He's caught some flack for his "Hollywood" productions but I guess the reason I like him is that the message he gives urges us to follow Jesus and treat others as Jesus did -- help the poor, the widows, the "least of these."

In Whirlwind, Bell addresses when bad things happen to good people (specifically referencing Job.) We all want answers, but often there are no answers. But what would it be like if we just let it go? And quit wondering? I'm not saying "Oh, there's a reason for everything, it will all be clear eventually." Maybe it will, maybe it won't.

But the most important thing I took from his message was this: when you're sitting in the middle of the shambles that is your job/lack of job/foreclosed house/divorce, just know that your story is not over. Your story is NOT OVER. MY story is not over.

And that, that brings me hope.

Who Am I

My latest post is up over at Bodies in Motivation. Come join me as I try to figure out who I am and what the aliens have done with the real me!

Also, I promise I'll be back tonight to update y'all on whether Punkin has been exercising her brain and my promised Deep Thoughts post. You're just hanging on the edge of your seats, aren't you?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Have You Exercised Your Brain Today?

I've got a "Deep Thoughts" post brewing but it needs a little more work, so in the meantime I thought I'd give you guys an update on school. Specifically, Punkin and school.

The first week went great. Until Friday that is. When we got home, there was a note in Punkin's agenda from her teacher telling me that Punkin had not participated in the class' Brain Exercises all week and for me to please talk to her about it.

We talked to Punkin about it, but trying to find out WHY she doesn't want to participate is about like trying to get secrets from the Sphinx. She either can't or won't articulate the reasons. But when we were talking with her about it, she demonstrated some of the moves for me, so I know she can do them.

So, we started out telling her what the consequences would be if she didn't participate, but then I remembered that Punkin responds much better to rewards than threats, so we told her that if she did her Brain Exercises every day this week, I would buy her a toy of her choosing (within reason, of course) this weekend.

Now I'll be honest, I really had no idea what Brain Exercises even are. Bubba piped up that he had done them last year, but not in kindergarten, so it must be a relatively new thing the school does. So, I Googled them just now and found a description of Brain Gym, which sounds like what Punkin is describing. I was going to copy it here, but it's easier just to go to this page. In addition to the things you see listed on that page, at the end, the kids are to put their fingertips together, breathe deep, and vocalize their one goal for that day.

Now listen, I'm all for helping kids learn, but this sounds a little woo woo to me. I'm justAlso, to make such a big deal about it in kindergarten is somewhat frustrating to me as well.

BUT, I get that Punkin needs to learn to follow directions and do what the teacher tells her to, even if if she doesn't want to.

So. Yesterday when I picked Punkin up, her parapro was in the office. When I asked her if Punkin had done her Brain Exercises she said yes. Punkin and I high fived and we went home. Where I opened her agenda to find a note from her teacher that yes, she HAD done them, but not to the degree that the teacher would have liked and that she gave Punkin several opportunities to do better and when she didn't, she "pulled a card" on Punkin. For the uninitiated, "pulling a card" is what happens when the kids get in trouble. There are levels of cards for different levels of offenses and the punishment varies depending on the color of the card, but usually consists of missing some or all of their recess time.

I'm not going to lie, my first thought was "Seriously? This is a little nit-picky if you ask me." But I HAD asked for feedback. So, what to do? Punish? Not punish?

Perhaps I was a little harsh, but I opted to punish Punkin. Because her unwillingness to do what she is asked is an ongoing problem with her, I went with punishment. We normally allow the kids to watch cartoons while I'm getting dinner ready, but I made her turn the television off and let Bubba watch cartoons in my bedroom.

She wailed. She cried. She yelled at me. I sent her to her room until she could apologize AND tell me what she'd done wrong. She kept wailing "I can't stop crying! I can't stop thinking about television." It wasn't fun, for me or her, but I hope the message got through.

I just wish I believed in the message.

She pinky promised me she would do her Brain Exercises today. With gusto, even. We'll see.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Boot Camp Haiku

Sweat pouring like rain,
Muscles burning like brush fire.
It hurts; hurts so good.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When the Rubber Meets the Road

My latest post is up over at Bodies in Motivation. This is the week it gets real, y'all.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm Going to Look Good from Every Angle

A while back I mentioned that I had begun reading some style blogs. I meant to link to them at the time, but, well, you know, life got in the way. My road to hell is going to be so smooooooth because it will be slick as glass, paved with all my good intentions.

Anyhoo, one of my faves is Looks Good from the Back. Adrien and Marianne are so cute and I love their sense of style. Their near-daily posts are cute, funny and I love their occasional mocking of the different style blog "poses" -- though the new poses that they've created are what really crack me up. The best thing about them, though, is that the things that they wear are what I consider "real people clothes," as in "clothes that don't cost an arm and a leg." I covet their bags and their shoes and their ability to put together things I would never have considered.

See, that's always been my problem. I'm afraid to get adventurous. I don't know if things "go" or not. Or is it too matchy-matchy? Can I really put those two colors together? Does it look like I'm trying too hard?

So, a couple of weeks ago when they put together a style board for Samantha of Campenette for BlogHer, I asked them how much they would charge me to put something together for me. One arm? One leg? A combo of the two?

As it turns out, they were easily bribed and immediately set to work on helping me update my fall wardrobe. See, because of our financial situation, new clothing for me just hasn't been in the old budget. My work wardrobe is in serious need of updating/upgrading.

I sent them a brief explanation of what I was looking for, my body type, weight, sizes, etc. Hey, nothing like sharing your weight on the internet for the whole world to see, right? But to get their advice, I would have done just about whatever they asked me to.

They put all these ingredients in their magic cauldrons (i.e., their brains) and pulled out the most amazing finds. My style boards are up today over at Looks Good From the Back. I'm thrilled with everything they've put together and I can't wait to start rocking some of these outfits. I've already bought a thing or two and I'll post pictures here once I get some stuff going.

Adrien, Marianne -- thank you so much!! You're THE BEST.

Monday, August 9, 2010

It Happened on the First Day

Well, the first day of school has come and gone. And I would say it was a success.

Because I drop the kids off early in order to get to work, I had to leave Bubba and Punkin in the gymnasium with about a hundred other kids to wait until it was time to go to their class. Bubba immediately found all his friends and was soon jabbering away, barely noticing my presence. Punkin and I found the line where the kindergarten class was supposed to sit. She didn't cry. She didn't cling to me, as she so often does when she's nervous. She just sat down on the line, criss-cross-applesauce and hugged her bookbag to her chest. I gave her a kiss, told her I loved her and told her I had to leave.

"Okay, Mommy."

"Have a great day, okay?"

"Okay, mommy."

I walked away and turned back to look at her when I reached the gym door. She looked so little sitting there. She saw me looking at her and then she smiled a huge smile and waved at me. I waved back.

I made it to the car. I even made it out of the parking lot. It was only when I called Mr. Daddy to give him a report of how it went that I broke down. And it wasn't full on sobbing, just a catch in my throat and tears pricking behind my eyes.

When I picked them up that afternoon, Punkin rounded the corner first, sweaty but looking happy. She got a smiley face in her agenda, but more importantly she had a smile on her face. But one of the most exciting developments was also one of the most surprising. I asked her "Did you make any friends today?"



"Bubba!" You see, it turns out that Bubba and Punkin played together in after school. They haven't played well together at home in over a year, with most attempts at joint play evolving into a yell-fest with lots of tears. But on Friday Bubba even allowed Punkin to join the Memangee Club, a club created two years ago by a group of sweaty boys in the after school program. The only requirement to join the club, apparently, is to be able to chase Katie Smith really fast. Punkin, as it turns out, is a pretty fast runner. So, she's in like Flynn. Of course it doesn't hurt that Bubba is the President of the Memangee Club. And he's promised her that next year, she can be president.

It does my heart good to see him looking after her like that. She thinks he hung the moon, but she thinks he doesn't love her. He would probably like to pretend that he doesn't, but his actions on Friday make it pretty clear to me that he does. Hopefully she'll soon realize it too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

OH! and A Winner! UPDATED

I nearly forgot to announce a winner in my Give and Get contest! I used to select the winner.

Apparently I'm too stupid to figure out how to put a screen shot of the Random Number Generator here on the page, so you'll just have to trust me. The winner is....

Commenter #11 -- Rougeneck!

Now, Rougie, you didn't specify a charity, so I'm going to email you and let you know you've won and see if you'd like to specify. If I don't hear back, I'm just going to choose for you!

Thanks for playing along, you guys.

Rougie has selected animals as her charity recipient, so I have made a donation to the Human Society in her hometown. Thanks again for playing, y'all.

Tomorrow is the First Day of the Rest of Her Life

All week I've had a vague sense of anxiety. I wake up at night and can't get back to sleep. I find myself clenching and unclenching my hands. My neck is a little tense. Mr. Daddy, an excellent reader of my moods, keeps asking me "What's wrong? Just tell me what's wrong. After 13 years of marriage, I know it's something." He stays after me, even after I've protested numerous times that there's nothing wrong.

Really, I was telling the truth because I couldn't put my finger on just what was wrong exactly. Until it finally hit me.

Punkin is starting kindergarten tomorrow. My baby. Who is still only 4 years old (she'll be 5 at the end of the month, for the record). When I finally fessed up to Mr. Daddy, his response was "Oh good grief. You're being ridiculous." Um, dude, when you press your wife to share what's bothering her, don't brush her off and make her feel silly. TALK TO HER. Don't you guys get it by now? We women want to talk things through, hash them out.

Y'all know the issues we've had with Punkin. While her behavior has vastly improved and she's always better behaved for other people, her starting "real" school is making me a little nervous. I've told a couple of people that I don't have any problem picturing Punkin in the classroom, but the idea of her tiny little self in the large cafeteria, full of kids, carrying a tray nearly puts me over the edge. But then yesterday I was trying to imagine her in the classroom, learning sight words and I nearly had a panic attack.

The thing is, I know I'm overreacting. Punkin is smart. She can do this. Tonight we go to meet the teachers and then tomorrow morning, my Punkin takes her first real step into the real world. And the first step in walking away from us. And maybe that's what's really making me sad.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Olfactory Memories

I have lived a good life. I don't mean I've always been good. Heaven knows that's not the truth. But I have have lived a good life. And no, I'm not about to die or anything. At least not that I know of. I had a boyfriend in college who used to say "I could step out in front of a North/South (our campus buses) tomorrow."

But that's not my point.

Last night I took Toby out for a walk before bedtime. I stood there in the dark silence, feeling the heat that was still all around me, listening to the crickets and the tree frogs. I took a deep breath and that's when I smelled it. Cows. I know I've said this before but I love the smell of cows and hay and barns and yes, even manure. My grandfather was a dairy farmer and all of those smells take me back to my childhood and spending time on their farm.

I'm not sure why it is, but olfactory memories are stronger for me than anything else. A smell can take me back to a particular place and time faster even than music. Perhaps it's because my olfactory memories are usually tied to pleasant events while songs often aren't, but who knows?

As I stood there last night and inhaled, my eyes pricked with tears as I thought about my grandparents. I have such happy memories of staying with them. Though my grandmother never really kept snacks that I liked -- she only had fig newtons and cracker jacks -- she could usually be counted on to have a homemade pound cake or a chocolate pie on hand, though I never fully appreciated her meringues.

I can remember so clearly standing outside their house, listening the window units as they cooled the house. Once you went inside, the noise of the air conditioners didn't quite drown out the crickets or the whippoorwills. As I climbed into bed, I'd bury my nose in the sheets, smelling of Gain and sunshine, one of the cleanest smells there is.

My PaPa's truck had a singular smell too -- hay, mixed with hot vinyl, dust, and tobacco. He always kept a spittoon on the floor hump between the driver's and passenger's side. If you were riding three abreast, you had to be careful not to put your foot in the spittoon if you were riding in the middle. His barn was a completely different set of smells -- dirt, gasoline, old oil, and tractors. He had a huge bin of nuts, bolts, and random parts that I used to love to sift through. We'd all take turns climbing up on the big old tractors, pretending to drive.

My grandparents were interesting people. They raised seven children, starting their family during the height of the depression. My grandfather was a funny, funny man and he got most of the attention. My grandmother, quieter, was a faithful woman -- faithful to her church and to her family. It was only after I became a mother myself that I truly appreciated what a strong woman she must have been.

My grandfather died the year after Mr. Daddy and I got married. My grandmother died when Bubba had just turned two. I grieve sometimes that my grandparents never met my children, but I grieve more that my children never really got to know my grandparents.

Last night as I stood there, I missed them. And I missed the simplicity of my childhood. But for a moment, standing there, smelling that glorious blend of summer smells, I went back.


Don't forget to leave the name of your favorite charity on yesterday's post. The deadline for entry is tonight at 11:59 p.m.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Give and Get

For a long time I kept it a secret the difficult times that Mr. Daddy and I have been through. Financially, we have struggled since we moved back to this area nearly five years ago. Having two kids in daycare was tough too. The year that we had them both in daycare full time? That year we shelled out $12,000 in daycare fees. You might wonder why I even worked, but it was always my job that had the insurance. And having had to buy private insurance for a year while we were self-employed made me realize what an awesome thing employer subsidized healthcare is. Things have gotten easier as the kids have gotten older. We went from two kids in daycare to just one and starting this Friday both our children will be in public school and all we'll have to pay for is after school care.

I came clean a couple of months back about our struggles and it was a huge relief. I always felt like I was holding something back from you guys and now there are so many more things I can blog about now that you know most of the details. Also, since then I've been reading so many blogs by people who have either been laid off or whose loved ones have been laid off. It's made me realize that we are not alone.

Since that post of mine, Mr. Daddy and I have really been working to pay off our debt. We've paid off three cards and just started working on the 4th this month. If I had actually written a physical check for the nearly $1000 I just sent Bank of America, I would have written SUCK IT in the memo field. I was saying it in my mind, though.

There's an old hymn that instructs us to "Count your blessings, name them one by one" and so I'm going to take a moment to write about a few things I'm thankful for:

1. I'm thankful that Mr. Daddy and I have been able to make such progress on our paying off our debts.

2. I'm thankful that we had enough extra money for me to buy a plane ticket so I could go and see AndreAnna this September (Woot!) Also joining us? Annabelle Speaks, Pseudostoops, Campenette, Belle Plaine, and McMama. If I left anybody out, I apologize. I've never met any of these women in real life, but I've gotten to know them all via their blogs and Twitter over the past couple of weeks. And AndreAnna is one of my most consistent commenters (and one of my favorite bloggers), so I'm super thrilled to finally get to the hang with her.

3. Mr. Daddy is able to fulfill a dream of his: to register for the introductory blacksmithing class at the John C. Campbell Folk School this November.

4. We were able to buy the kids' back to school clothes without worrying where the money was going to come from.

I know all this is money related and I don't want it to seem like we're Mr. and Mrs. Gotrocks all of a sudden, or seem like I'm bragging, but I just cannot tell you what an absolute relief it is to be able to do these things. For so many months, nay years, we had our noses to the grindstone without room for any extras. There were literally times when we were down to $5 or less before payday. So to finally be able to breathe and have a little fun, well that feels pretty darn good.

Throughout our financial troubles, Mr. Daddy and I have tried to continue our charitable giving. We give weekly to our church. Our Sunday school class provided food for needy kids to take home on the weekends. Mr. Daddy sends money occasionally to Make A Wish and I send money pretty regularly to the USO. I believe in paying it forward. So, in honor of the many, many blessings we have received, I want to make a gift. In your name.

Leave a comment with the name of your favorite charity by 11:59 p.m. on August 4th. I will use a random number generator to select one of the comments and then I will make a $50 donation in your name to the charity of your choice.

The way I see it, this way everybody wins.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fixin' to Get Fit

Woot! My first post is up over at Bodies in Motivation. Go check me out. And check out some of the other new bloggers over there (plus longtime BIM blogger, AndreAnna).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Possum Tales

We are so country, y'all. What passes for excitement around our house these days is truly astounding.

It all started when I took Toby after dinner. He beelined to the edge of the yard where we discovered a dead possum. I'm pretty sure it hadn't been there when I took him out after work, but I can't say for sure. Anyway, when I went inside I mentioned it to Mr. Daddy because I didn't want the thing stinking up the yard or to be a temptation for Toby or my dad's two dogs. Dogs have a love of the putrid you know. I wanted him to get rid of it 'cause that's like in the man bylaws -- men have to deal with dead stuff. We give birth and breastfeed and they have to get rid of carrion.

By the reaction from the younger set in my house, you would think I had announced that I had found Santa's secret workshop in our backyard. Both children immediately yelled "I want to see it!" which was complicated by the fact that Punkin was in the bathtub. When I told Bubba to get his shoes on, Punkin let out a wail of despair. So, I told her to dry off and put her bathrobe on and I would carry her out to see the dead possum.

We all trouped out to the back of the yard. Yep. There he was. Dead as a doornail. And uuuugly. We stood there staring at it for a second or two. We turned it into a mini science lesson by examining all the beetles and flies who had come to do their job. Then we all tropped back into the house.

It was probably the most exciting thing that's happened all week.

But the possum moon must be in retrograde or something because this is my second encounter with possums this week. On my way in to work on Tuesday, my co-worker called me and asked me if I was at work yet. When I informed her that I was just leaving the deck she said "Look out for the possum on the ramp near the building. It's creeping me out!"

Only, I thought she said "Look out for the coffin on the ramp near the building" and I was all like "what the hell? It's creeping her out? Of course it is! What's a coffin doing next to the building." So my whole way into the building I was looking everywhere for a coffin. The possum could have been right beside me and I wouldn't even have known because I was looking for a creepy ass coffin. The whole coffin/possum mix-up was cleared up when I got into the office, but it was pretty funny. Apparently the possum stared my co-worker down as she entered the building. Frankly, that sounds about as creepy as a coffin.

I hope last night's possum is the last one I'll encounter for a while. I can't handle too much more excitement.

Don't you wish you lived my life?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Perhaps I Exaggerated

To be perfectly honest, the trip wasn't all bad.The

first two days were spent with Mr. Daddy's cousin and his wife, who is 8 months pregnant, and her parents at the parent's lake house. We fished, we rode the Sea Doo, we rode in the boat, we ate good food. I tried to ski. For the first time since I was in sixth grade. That went about as well as you would expect. For the record, I did manage to get up once, but immediately fell down. All in all, I tried six times to get up but was never successful. And man, I was sore for the next three days. Why hello, pectoral muscles! But it was truly a lot of fun.

The above picture is Bubba and Mr. Daddy's cousin, Jason. The picture below is one Mr. Daddy took of Punkin as she was chillin' in the swing on the dock. It's one of my favorite pictures of her, ever.

We saw some wildlife at the campground, so that was fun. Animals encountered included:

a black snake
a deer
a toad

The black snake was lying directly in front of the door to the ladies bathroom. My brain went through this convoluted thought process in a matter of about five seconds "Is that real? No, soembody's just playing a joke by putting a fake snake in front of the ladies room. But we are in the middle of the woods, so it could be real. But it's so still, it must be fake."

And then it moved and we were sure it was real. Punkin screamed like, well, like a little girl and ran away. I'm not personally afraid of snakes and it was already retreating, so I waited until it went around the corner and then we went on our merry way into the bathroom. The bathroom doors had this mechanism on them that kept them open for a few seconds after you let go of them, I'm assuming to keep them from slamming. I couldn't help but think, though, that if that snake had timed it just right, she (he?) could have ended up in the bathroom. I didn't mind encountering it on the pathway, but I'm not sure how I would have felt about finding it in one of the stalls, or having it join me in the shower. That's a lie. I know exactly how I would have felt -- terrified!

I also got to visit with a good friend of mine while we were in the area. My friend, I'll call her Sara, had been my maid of honor 13 years ago. Time and distance had caused us to drift apart, but Facebook, that wonderful re-uniter, brought us back together. We picked up right where we left off -- only with the addition of two kids apiece. Our kids got along famously, picking right up and playing together with no hesitation as only children can.

And we did finally get to go to that fair I mentioned in yesterday's post. Though we dropped a boatload of cash in just the two hours we were there, the kids had a blast. And I got spit on by a llama in the petting zoo. Fortunately he was aiming low and he mostly got the bottom of my dress, but he was cut off from any more kibble. Dude, everybody knows you don't spit on the hand that feeds you.

There was also a miniature donkey in the petting zoo and now Mr. Daddy wants one. I've asked him where he's planning on putting it, but he hasn't really come up with a satisfactory answer just yet. We've been having fun coming up with names for it though. 'Rastus is winning right now.

So, you see, it wasn't all bad. I just think it's one of those vacations that will get better with the benefit of some time and distance.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Comedy of Errors

Well, we had a pretty good vacation. I realize I'm damning it with faint praise, but it is what it is. Last year's vacation was so awesome that I think we just had a lot to live up to. When we're on vacation we like to see historic sites and tour quaint little towns with interesting museums. We did not find anything like that. Unfortunately, most of the little towns surrounding the state park were dying on the vine.

The campground was nice, but all the campers were bambambam right up next to each other without the benefit of even some brush or branches to provide any semblance of privacy. Fortunately, our neighbors were really nice and quiet, with the exception of the middle aged couple blasting Somewhere Over the Rainbow at midnight. Seriously? You're gonna blast show tunes? I didn't hear them but Mr. Daddy got up and politely asked them to turn it down. I know we weren't the only ones bothered because the next morning another set of neighbors snarkily asked if we'd enjoyed our Judy Garland serenade the night before.

And I don't know what happened to us, but we did not pack worth a damn. Oh, I had all the clothes and some dry goods. We'd planned to pick up the cold items we needed once we got up there. But, we completely neglected to pack our griddle, upon which we planned to cook our breakfast every morning.

So, when we headed to the local Wally world to pick up our groceries, we picked up a little cast iron griddle thingie that we figured would be perfect over an open campfire. It was only the next morning as we went to pour our eggs on it that we realized we had neglected to pack utensils. Of any kind. So. It's pretty hard to scramble eggs without a spoon or a spatula.

But guess what? A stick will do in a pinch! Mr. Daddy found a clean looking stick, dubbed it "stickula" and scrambed the heck out of our eggs with it. The eggs looked a little odd, I'm not going to lie, but they tasted delicious. Even after we bought some utensils later that day, Mr. Daddy decided to hang on to "stickula" because you just never know when a good stick might come in handy.

We went to a Pulaski Mariners baseball game one night, which was fun for me and Mr. Daddy. Bubba and Punkin only enjoyed visiting the snack bar a million times and asking "when are we going back to the camper?" We did have our picture made with Slider, the Mariner's mascot.

On Tuesday we went to the lake to swim, but all we heard was "it's too hot, I'm bored, I don't want to swim." We stayed about an hour before the whining took it's toll and we headed back to the camper.
We, like Mir, had a day of which we will not speak. Well, except for here. Actually, it was one of those days that was so bad that by the end we were all just laughing hysterically at the ludicrousness of it all. We had planned to go to a local fair on Wednesday, thinking that it opened early. It didn't.

So, we went to lunch thinking that it would be open when we finished. It wasn't.

Not really knowing anything about the area, we turned to our trusty (well, mostly trusty) borrowed GPS and queried her about tourist attractions. Rusty's Putt Around? Sure, putt putt could be fun. So, we drove 14 miles only to find Rusty's Driving Range and (non-working) batting cages.

Trusty GPS, what are our other options? Fun Challenge? Hmm, sounds like it has possibilities. But it's another 12 miles. Perhaps we should call first this time. Fun Challenge? A daycare. A DAYCARE.

Blacksburg,VA was only a few miles down the road at this point so we decided to check it out. Smithfield Plantation on the Virginia Tech campus? Hey that sounds historic -- let's check it out. Wait, what does that sign say? Open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. What day is today? Wednesday!?!? Arghhhhh!!!!

Trusty GPS, we're giving you one more chance. What is there to DO around here? Bowling? Why the hell not. Beats driving up and down the road all day. Well, that kind of looks like a bowling alley. Or like it wants to be a bowling alley. But it is NOT currently a bowling alley, only an empty shell.

Maniacal laughter from the front seat combined with incessant whining from the backseat does not for a pleasant day make.

The only good thing I can say is that next year's vacation is going to be awesome. It will have to be compared to this one.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

And the Winner Is.....

Just In Case, with her suggestion of Fixin' To, though I'm going to alter it slightly and change it to Fixin' To Get Fit. I think it appropriately highlights my southern heritage and incorporates getting fit without limiting it to boot camp. Also, it seems like I'm always fixin' to diet, fixin' to exercise. So, there you have it.

The prize is a $25 gift certificate to You should be getting a prize confirmation sometime tomorrow, Just in Case!

Thanks for playing everybody!!

I'm Baaaack

Have you ever seen a more anticlimactic contest? Where it takes a WEEK for the winner to be announced. And boy, you guys have made it really, really tough. I thought I knew which one I wanted, but now I'm a little confused.

So, I'm going to drag it out just a little bit more. I'm officially closing the contest as of now, 9:08 a.m., otherwise if y'all keep giving me awesome suggestions I'll never get it figured out. I'll be back tonight to declare a winner and announce the prize.

Thank y'all for playing along!

Madame Queen

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's A Contest!

So, I can spill the beans. It's not news to most of you anyway. Well, the ones of you that left a comment at least. I'm terrible at keeping secrets -- mine, anyway. I mean, if you tell me something and tell me not to tell, I'll go to my grave with your secret. So, if you've ever told me something in confidence, rest assured I've never told a soul. Probably. Just kidding!

So, the big secret is that starting in August I'm going to be writing over at Bodies in Motivation!! I can see your mouths are all agape. Yes, yes, it's true. I'm about to begin a fitness regime, a boot camp style workout that meets twice a week. And what better way to make myself accountable to my new endeavor than to make myself accountable to a bunch of strangers (and a few friends, I hope) on the internet, right? Accountability goes a long way with me. As I told Linda, Bodies in Motivation's creator, I'm a people pleaser and if I tell you I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it, by God, or die trying.

So, here's where I need you guys. I've got to come up with a name for my blog. It needs to be fairly short and as AndreAnna noted (she has a blog over at Bodies, too) the title shouldn't be too limiting because the focus may change over time, as hers has. So, while I'm starting with a boot camp type excercise, I may move on to something else (that is pretty much the only reason I didn't go with my friend Tara's awesome suggestion of Boot Cramp). Oh, and I would also like the blog title to be funny and catchy, if possible. There are some good titles over at Bodies and I want to fit in.

So, here's a couple of things I've thought of so far, or have already been suggested.

Two Steps Forward (BORING! and my idea)

I Volunteered For This?

Do What Now? (this, for those of you that don't know, is what Southerners say (or maybe just my family?) when someone asks you to do something ridiculous, like say, run with a tire across a field) It must be said with a tone of incredulousness. I really like this one, but I'm afraid people wouldn't "get" the title.

TeeTiney BeHiney

So, I'd love to hear your suggestions. I'm offering a prize in exchange for the winning idea. If, for some reason I end up not choosing any of these, I'll do a random number generated pick from the comments and STILL give a prize. So it's a win-win!

Now keep in mind that I'll be gone for a week and will little-to-no internet access while I'm gone. So, it will be at least Saturday before I get a chance to look over the entries.

Annnnd go!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Do You Smell Updog?

What's updog?

Nothin' man, what's up with you. Hahahahaha! I slay me.

No, I'm not dead....sorry it's been so long since I've written....blah blah blah...yadda yadda yadda. You guys know the drill. Sorry.

And now I'm posting only to leave again for a week in a day or so on our vacation. We were originally planning to go to Florida, but when tarballs started washing up on the beach, we canceled our reservation at the state park. I felt really bad about it -- I hated to do that to Florida, but this is our one vacation a year as a family. Plus, I cannot go to the beach and not get in the water and if tarballs are washing up on the beach, I don't trust what's in the water, no matter what Florida's tourism board says.

We're heading up to western Virginia for several days. The state park we'll be visiting has a large lake and beach and the surrounding town has a lot of stuff going on while we're there. Plus, Mr. Daddy's cousin and his soon-to-deliver wife live there, as does my good college friend (who also was my maid of honor). My friend and I haven't seen each other in years and a LOT has changed since we last saw each other.

I just picked my kids up tonight after they spent three days camping with my mom and stepdad and my niece and nephew. Bubba met me with a litany of every travail that had befallen him in the three days -- he got a ton of mosquito bites, he stabbed his toe, he cut his finger, and he threw up.

"You threw up?!? Why?"

"I rode too long on the tire swing."

Ah. My sympathies, Bubba. I cannot even look at a tire swing without feeling nauseated.

Punkin was asleep before we got through the park gates, as is her custom.

They didn't bathe the entire time they were gone and I'm pretty sure they didn't brush their teeth. If you caught a whiff of funk late this afternoon, it was probably them. If they get cavities I'm sending the Queen Mother the bill.

So, that's what's been going on. I've got some exciting news to share, but I'll have to wait until I have full confirmation before I share. Until then, you'll just have to wonder.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Think I Deserve A Ribbon This Time

Remember those damn ribbons? The ones that caused such an inferiority complex in me? Well, funny story.

Although I wrote that post about how I needed to just let Punkin be who she was, I thought well, maybe she might like to have some ribbon hair bows. You know, if she knew about them. So, I contacted my crafty friend Tara who's made some hair bows of her own and she offered to give me some lessons.

I gathered up my glue gun and bought a bunch of ribbon and other supplies and Punkin and I set off to Tara's for a playdate and a craft lesson. Tara made two bows for me while I watched and then I set about making one of my own. They were fairly large-ish, but totally cute and exactly what I was looking for.

And guess what? With the exception of one Sunday, Punkin won't wear them. Also? They don't really look like her. I mean, they're cute on her, but they just don't look right somehow. But, at the same time, I also made some of these hair bows and they look totally cute on her. And she will wear these. Occasionally.

But the really funny thing happened yesterday morning. Remember my Bible school freak out when all the moms made their daughters's too-large shirts fit just right and look oh-so cute? Well, yesterday Punkin's camp was going on a field trip and they were all supposed to wear their camp shirts and Punkin's, once again, is a mite too big. After she got dressed, she came running out of her room with the excess shirt gathered in her hand behind her back.

"Mommy, you've got to get a hair bow and tie this up like this! That's what the big girls do."

I dutifully obliged. Then,

"And now Mommy, you need to get some ribbon and tie my sleeves up like this! That's how the big girls wear theirs."

You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was so surprised. She looked so cute! And it was all her idea. And fortunately, fortunately, this time I was prepared. I was the Mommy with the ribbon on hand. So, I learned two things at Bible school this year -- 1) never underestimate the importance of a little piece of ribbon and 2) quit worrying so much.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Uncovering a Niche Market

Yesterday I went to get my hair cut and as I sat down to wait for the stylist to finish with the person before me, I looked through the stack of magazines they had spread out on a large ottoman. There was Elle, Vogue, a random hair magazine or two, Marie Claire, Cosmo and GQ. I picked up the GQ and not because Jake Gyllenhaal was on the cover (while I find him mildly attractive, he is not on my "list").

I started thinking about my favorite magazine and if pressed, I'd have to say it's Esquire. I like women's magazines to an extent, though there are some I like more than others. In fact, I downright detest Cosmo and never even pick it up. I used to like Glamour until the old Editor retired and Cosmo's Editor took over. Then it was like Cosmo Lite.

It was kind of interesting to me to realize that I prefer men's magazines. I want to read articles about delicious food -- steaks, sandwiches, barbecue. I want to read articles about the coolest new cocktails, which dive bar you MUST visit in each city. I want to read interesting articles about real world issues. If you haven't picked up an Esquire lately, they have some of the best writers in the business, if you ask me. I realized that I'm kind of insulted that women's magazines are all about makeup and fashion and !SEX! and which positions will drive your boyfriend WILD.

Sure, Esquire has some "fluff" pieces, but they're still more interesting than the offerings in most women's magazines I've seen. I like looking at women's fashion, but the prices in most of the magazines are kind of a turn off for me. And sure, I could look for similar, less expensive items to try to copy "the look," but most of the outfits are so out there that they wouldn't really work for my life.

It's true that a lot of men's magazine, Esquire included, will often feature a scantily clad woman in its pages somewhere. But it's usually tastefully done (ahem) and hey, I can admire a beautiful female form as much as the next guy. But that usually only takes up 3 or 4 pages or so and the rest of the magazine is filled with handsome men in varying stages of hotness, depending on your type. Me, I tend to be attracted to the scruffier guys -- you know, the ones with the shirts slightly open, hair slightly mussed, a little five o'clock shadow, but occasionally a man in a suit that fits just so will catch my eye.

Am I the only one who feels this way? Are there any awesome women's magazines out there that I'm missing out on?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Quitting the Hard Stuff

I deleted my Twitter account yesterday. I tweeted about my decision, kind of hoping someone might try to talk me out of it, but nobody did.

I did it for a lot of reasons. One, I never, okay rarely, tweet anything. Occasionally I'll retweet something and I respond to a fair amount of people's tweets. I'm an excellent @-er.

The second reason I did it is that I believe that Twitter is killing my productivity in a lot of ways. At work I'm so tempted just to check in, but then I have to catch up from where I left off, or I find an interesting link and down the rabbit hole I go, lost for 10, 15, 20 minutes at a time.

I also credit (blame?) twitter for the original weakening of my blog. Twitter was so addictive, so fun, so easy. I would often distill a blog post into 140 characters (well, not possible really but you know what I mean) and then feel no need to blog. Plus, I was following all my blog friends on Twitter so I could keep up with what they were doing there. My visits to other blogs dropped dramatically at the same time.

And finally, I felt like I was addicted to Twitter. On Tuesday and Wednesday I was constantly checking in, hitting refresh, refresh, refresh. And feeling antsy when there was nothing new to read. All day long.

And I'm not going to lie, this post by Steam Me Up, Kid really hit a nerve with me. I often feel like I'm on the outside of the Twitter window, looking in. While in some ways Twitter made me feel more connected, in others it made me feel more isolated.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who uses Twitter as part of her job as a Librarian. She seemed kind of horrified by the fact that I had deleted Twitter and I worried that she felt I was judging her for still using it. I'm not judging anyone at all. Twitter is fun, can be used in a variety of different ways, and it has, I believe, changed the world. In some ways for the worse in my opinion, but you can't argue that it has also changed some things for the better.

I was very nervous before I hit the "Are you SURE?" button. I do have a lot of friends on Twitter and I know I'm going to miss your Tweets. You guys are freakin' hilarious. I'm afraid we won't stay in touch the same way we did before.

But I do feel a sense of peace since I deleted my account. And yes, I started jonesing for some Twitter action late yesterday afternoon. I may be back. I'm not ruling it out. But for now, I'm done.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


We had a great weekend, though it was quite busy. On Friday night we went to a pool party for the children's ministry at our church. Though I was quite confident to attend a swimming party last summer, this summer I was a little more hesitant. Of course, I've gained back most of the weight I lost last year. As I told my friends, I'd much rather wear my swimsuit in front of strangers than in front of people I actually know. But when neither of your children can swim and your daughter looks at you with pleading eyes and says "please swim with me, mommy," you really have no choice but to get in the pool.

On Saturday, Mr. Daddy and I attended a wedding in my hometown that was held in the very same church we got married in. And in fact, our anniversary was yesterday. It was kind of neat being back there, seeing another young couple heading out into the wilds of marriage. I thought of several pieces of advice that I started to write in their card, but ultimately wrote "wishing you much love" which I think pretty much covers all the bases.

I'm thinking of doing a little housecleaning on this here blog. I'm thinking of doing away with my blogroll. It's not because I don't love you guys, but it's kind of outdated -- some of the blogs are inactive -- but I don't want to just clean it up because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. What are your thoughts? I hardly ever click on anyone else's blogroll. If anything, I'll click through from a funny comment. I don't know, just a thought.

Hope y'all had a good weekend too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What A Difference A Day Makes!

And a nap! You wouldn't believe the angel child that greeted me last night. Punkin was pleasant with hardly a tantrum in sight. She was cracking jokes, making silly faces and doing silly voices that had the whole family cracking up. If I didn't know better I would swear she was a different child. Amazing.

BUT, I didn't intend on this blog becoming "all Punkin, all the time" so I'm going to share the love and talk about Bubba just a little.

Bubba is in the throes of the "all girls have cooties/no way would I like I girl/NO, I DO NOT HAVE A GIRLFRIEND" stage that most boys go through. The only girl that is accepted no questions asked is his beloved cousin Birdie. Bubba and Birdie have been inseparable since they were old enough to play together. While other cousins of the same gender as Bubba and Birdie have occasionally parted them, they generally wind up back together doing their "Stupid Country Cousins" routine, which is generally hilarious (and incidentally the only time I allow him to say stupid.)

Bubba did have a little girlfriend once, when he was about four. Her name was Rose and she had lovely, curly red hair. She was smart and feisty and I liked her. But somebody -- not me, I'm smarter than that -- teased Bubba about her and that was it for girlfriends. Or even girl friends -- that he will admit to, anyway.

So, when we were at the beach recently, I couldn't help but notice a little girl playing near us in the water. She kept placing herself in general proximity to Bubba and looking at me and smiling. She and Bubba looked to be about the same age, so I called Bubba over and said "Bubba, I'm pretty sure that little girl wants to play with you. Why don't you play with her?"

"Mommy! She's a GIRL!"

"So?! Just pretend she's Birdie!"

"I don't want to play with her!"

Finally, I took matters into my own hands and when she ran by me I asked her name. Her name was Hailey and she was camping with her grandparents. And I was right, she was seven, too. After that, it didn't take too long before we were all building a sandcastle together and then before too long, she and Bubba took off to ride their body boards together.

From then on Hailey was all I heard about. "Do you think Hailey will be at the beach when we get down there? Can Hailey come see our campsite? Can I ride my bike over to Hailey's campsite? Can Hailey and I ride our bikes around the loop?" Hailey, Hailey, Hailey.

On the last day, Bubba begged to ride his bike to Hailey's campsite to say goodbye. When he got back I couldn't resist and said "See, aren't you glad you played with Hailey after all?"

"Yeah," Bubba admitted. "It's just that I didn't think she would like to do stuff like I like to do, since she's a girl."

My tomboy and feminist feathers slightly ruffled, I replied somewhat indignantly, "Well, maybe from now on you should get to know someone before you start deciding what they might or might not like to do, right?"

"Yeah, I guess so. She was pretty cool."

So maybe, just maybe, girls don't have quite as many cooties as they used to. Hailey, wherever you are, thank you for being a cool girl.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Best Laid Plans....

So, I had this grand plan to write a warm, fuzzy post last night thank you all for your kind words. All of you. Burgh Baby, you made me laugh out loud. Lauren -- I can't believe I had you fooled! Perfect mom -- hah! But thank you. I'm glad I'm projecting that at least part of the time. Teresa -- your encouragement means a lot to me, especially your email that you sent. And Just In Case, you hit the nail on the head -- I often don't enjoy my time with Punkin either and that just breaks my heart. I've been so tired and so busy for the last couple of weeks and I tend to get more frustrated when I feel this way and my thinking often tends to go into a downward spiral when I'm tired, so I chalked my last post up to that.

I was feeling better as I headed home. And then, Punkin didn't take a nap at camp yesterday and was a BEAST the entire night. Everything prompted tears and yelling. She is SO frustrated and seem so angry when she doesn't get her way. I'm actually thinking of just putting her straight to bed the next time she starts acting that way. That's got to be better than the alternative -- two unhappy, frustrated, near-tears females. We'll see.

Wanna know what's getting me through right now? This song. Please take a moment to listen to it. You won't regret it, I promise. And it will stick with you -- in a good way.

While this song doesn't match my situation necessarily, I can't help but think that Crayola doesn't make a color to draw Punkin either. She's made up of so many colors and I just need to let those real colors shine through.

Monday, June 14, 2010

This Was A Hard One for Me to Write...

In yesterday's post I mentioned how much I loved Bible school last week, but I'd be lying if I didn't tell you the whole truth. It was a tough week. And not just because of the long hours.

Last week was tough on Punkin too. We all stayed up late on vacation, the kids often going to bed around 10:00 or later when they are accustomed to being in the bed by 8:00. Then we jumped back into full lives -- Bubba at the YMCA every day, on the go from 8:00 until 5:00 and Punkin at our church's summer day camp where she is getting to do some really fun activities, but where she is also mostly foregoing her nap.

I'd arrive at the Family Life Center every evening around 5:30 and then we'd all get in line for dinner, followed by an evening full of Bible stories, play time, arts and crafts and lots and lots of singing. We'd usually get home around 8:45 which meant the kids would be in bed by 9:00, which meant that Punkin had been at the Family Life Center for approximately 13 hours.

Punkin did fine on Monday, but Tuesday night there was a meltdown of epic proportions. I should have known better, should have known that a whole day at the church was just too much for her. You'd think I'd know what sets her off by now, but actually I'm just now figuring it out.

While I still don't think Punkin has Asperger's, I DO think she has some sensory issues (which I'll address in a future post) and I think that a full day of activity, capped off by loud music and lot of singing was just more than she (and her nervous system) could handle. I made her go home with Mr. Daddy after camp on Wednesday and get to bed at a decent hour, but Thursday and Friday I let her stay at Bible School because she seemed like she was in such a good mood. I hated to make her miss out on all the fun, especially since she didn't go to Bible School at all last year. But the biggest thing I realized last week is that I have to be the parent which means that sometimes I have to make the unpopular decisions. I should have made her go home on Thursday night too so that she would have had a better chance of making it to the pie throwing on Friday, which she ultimately missed. I have to learn to recognize the signals that a meltdown is coming and try to head her off at the pass, so to speak. Lesson learned.

Bible school was hard for me for another reason, though this is one is all me. I mean, what I'm about to say is something that I have dealt with about myself in the past and I thought I was over it, but obviously I'm not. On the last night, all the kids got t-shirts and most were a little too large for the little girls. But just about every mom there reached into their bags and pulled out cute little ribbons and hairbows and what nots and tied up their little girls' shirts in such a way that they all looked so cute. They all had little hairbows in their hair, their faces were clean, their clothes were clean, their hair was neat. And there was Punkin, shirt down past her knees, lips ringed with punch stains, hair tangled, knees filthy. She looked like a little homeless child and for just a moment, I felt like a failure as a mom. And for just a moment I wished that Punkin was like those little girls. But she's not. She's a rough and tumble girl, always going at 100 miles an hour, playing hard, getting dirty. And I'm torn because I love that about her. I want her to be her own person and not feel like she has to be like everyone else. I love the fact that she likes to play and isn't afraid to get dirty. I was a tomboy too and I appreciate that aspect of her personality. I want her to be the kind of girl that wears Converse sneaks to the prom if she wants to.

I love Punkin fiercely. I don't know if it's because she's a girl or what, but I feel a love for her that's different than the love I feel for Bubba. Not more or less. Just different. Sometimes I think it's because she's a challenging child that I love her so much. She frustrates the hell out of me, but I think the greater challenges create a greater love. I can't explain it any better than that.

I think, when you get right down to brass tacks, what I wish is that Punkin were an easier child. But she's not. She is what she is. And I love her. But she often makes me feel like I don't know what in the hell I'm doing and I look at all these moms with these perfect little girls and I just feel less than. I feel pitied when she has a meltdown in front of everybody. I hate pity. I'm afraid it makes people look at Punkin and see "Problem" and I'm afraid they won't be able to see the sweet, smart, funny little girl that I know is in there too. I hate to feel out of control, like I don't know what I'm doing.

But like yesterday's post, I look back at a year ago and see how far we've come. I can only hope that I'll look back on these difficulties a year from now and marvel at how much progress we've made.