Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Be Prepared isn't just for the Boy Scouts any more.

An item on my home page caught my eye today.

"Rise of the Preppers" was a Newsweek article on the rise of modern-day survivalists in our country. Which lead me to the website

I really don't see anything wrong with being prepared for things. Preparation reduces panic in an emergency situation. But the article made these prepared folks seem like an oddity.

Now I'm an Alabama girl, born and raised. Something you need to know about Alabama girls: We hunt, fish, garden, and then "can" what we grow.

I am not really patient enough for hunting and fishing, but could if I reallt needed to. I don't do well with the thought of taking a life of any kind (unless it's a snake)but I know that the Lord put animals on this earth for man's use, and that includes food. Fish are easier to think about because they seem a little disconnected. But either way, the cleaning and preparing of animals for consumption is gross.I'm sort of squeemish, so I leave those activities to my men-folk, who seem to enjoy it quite a bit. Gardening is easy enough. You put seeds in the ground and the Lord does the rest.

"Canning" is when you take the things you've grown in your garden and preserve them for later. I've watched my grandmother can pickles,tomatoes and fruit my whole life. It was an all day event when I was a kid and she made what should have been tedious work look like fun. I only know how to pickle, but I can read instructions, and since the basics are the same, I'm certain I could figure out how to do the rest.

The words to Hank Williams Jr.'s "Country Boys Can Survive" are now running through my head.

After looking over Survival Mom's website, I came across a nifty little device that seems both practical and economical: the Sun Oven.

Granted, one would have to be home all day long and be able to fend away the neighborhood critters, but this seems like a pretty neat little contraption. Sort of a primative slow cooker. My father-in-law likes things like this. I thought I'd introduce it to him and see what he thinks. Of course, he's also the type that would try to figure out how to build one himself and save the $300.

I consider myself a "prepper" of sorts. I hang on to everything. Having grandparents raised during the Great Depression who had a great influence on my life, I learned that anything "with use left in it" was not to be discarded. When disaster strikes, I will be the crazy old lady with the garage full of useful old stuff to make radios and spaceships out of.

Technology is great, but we also need to remember how to do things the old fashioned way. Nearly daily someone makes the "what did we do before we had..." comment. Computers, cell phones, DVR, X-Box, microwaves,calculators and such are all nice, useful tools, but are they really necessary? I am certain I would probably perish should air conditioning disapear, but I do think that there are times when a little old fashioned know-how would be beneficial. People don't know how to count change back to you any more for goodness sakes. They just hand you what the computer says, in a wad with a smirk. That's a real pet peeve of kids may end up in fast food, but by jingo they will know how to count change!

Having it too easy also leads to a lack of common sense. Remember all the panic over Y2K? News reports of people stock-piling canned goods for months in case the power should forget how to work. I remember vividly standing on New Year's Eve of 1999, in line at Walmart, with all the other local folks buying bottled water, canned beans, milk, and bread, with just my manual, turn-key can opener. The light-bulbs going off over everyone's heads could have lit the store.

One of my friends once said when the end of the world comes, they wanted to be in Alabama, because everything happens there 20 years late.

We may be behind, but we won't be caught off guard.
"Country Folks Can Survive"

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Sweet 16....

Happy Sixteenth Birthday Ty!

I love you, "Tigger" Thanks for letting me be your mom.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Julie,Julia, and Joy

As I recouperate from the holiday overload, and inevitable carb-coma, I have enjoyed a few relaxing days with family. Nothing is more blissful than not having to be somewhere or doing something, or worrying over something or working on something.These are the times that paper plates and pizza deliveries were made for.

I also enjoy lounging on the couch to watch tv. My husband and I rarely ever get to do this together anymore, as his Saturdays and Sundays are totally consumed with football. I do enjoy a good football game, but one a week is plenty for me. I only care what Auburn does. Not the hubby....he can find a football game/highlight show/coaches corner/ etc... any day of the week and does not care one yardstripe that the rest of the family doesn't want to watch it.

Yes, sadly, I am a football widow.

Despite 2 other tv's in the house, optimum football viewing is apparently done on our living room tv, so lounging on the couch to watch a dvd on the only dvd player in the house, is out of the question on Saturdays and Sundays. He must keep up with EVERY football game played 'round the world, for matters of what, national entertainment security?

And it is not just REAL football either... he also participates in FANTASY football. Yes, that's right, not only am I being completely ignored for real football, but imaginary football as well. I could leave him and he wouldn't notice until February.

Today, I had the rare opportunity, to watch a movie and got to see the new movie Julie & Julia, staring one of the most versatile, talented actors of our time, Meryl Streep. In it, Meryl Streep plays the infamous and incomparable Julia Child on her journey to bring French cuisine into the lives of "servantless Americans," such as writer Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, in post-911 New York.
I absolutely love Meryl Streep and her acting methods. She totally imerses herself in her characters: from clutching a bag of ice before appearing as a dead body, to learning new regional or foreign dialects, dyeing her hair, learning to sing, you name it! Drama, comedy, romance...Really, what can't she do?
Some of my favorite Meryl Streep movie are: Silkwood (saw it in high school on a date, though not really a "date" movie, and the fact that this is a true story scared me half to death). Out of Africa (fell in love with it the first time I saw it...."Ah had a fahm in Ah-fri-cah.." I could watch it right now, and still cry when Denys dies), She Devil (the "I'm taking my life back" scene owns me, tho the German maid storming out saying "Up with this sh*t, I will not put!" is pretty good too.) and of course, The Devil Wears Prada (where she's supposed to be Vogue's ice queen editor Anna Wintor, but makes "Miranda Priestly" more real than the inspiration). Also in TDWP is Stanley Tucci, another extremely versatile actor, that stars along side her in Julie & Julia has her husband, Paul Child.
The movie is set in two different time lines of two true life stories: Julia's arrival in France in 1949, and Julie's move to a tiny apartment over a pizzeria in 2002. It transitions between the two stories beautifully, as screen writer Nora Ephron parallels the two women's lives. I would tell you more about it here, but would not rob you of the opportunity of seeing it for yourself, and that was not really the point of this post.
While watching as Julie's blog reaches near-cult like status, it made me think of this blog.
I love to write. I'm told that I write pretty well. Yes, I would like to publish a novel one day (as listed on my Bucket List) and I wish I could write here more often. I have notebooks full of story ideas and character development, but that is as far as it's ever gotten. Currently my days are filled with customer complaints and orders and the amendment of orders and the tracking of orders and the scheduling of workdays and vacation days and personal time and so on... but really, aren't those just excuses? Julie Powell also tells her husband that she barely has time to write and that she never finishes anything, but she knows why...ADD, as proven by the fact that she's not good at housework (well now that's two things in common!)
And like Julie, I wonder if anyone is reading this. I know I have 2 "followers" to this blog, two of my pageant buddies (thanks y'all) that I think wandered over from my pageant blog. (Over there, I have a grand total of 9, not bad for someone who's never won a title, eh?). So if you are out there reading this, let me know. You don't have to send me stuff like they do in the movie, but a comment every now and again would be nice.
There is hope that one day I may be considered a writer. a dream of mine since I was a kid. Someone once told me that what you send out there into cyberspace, never really gets deleted, so maybe some day, this blog may be entertainment for some.
Coincidently, you can still read Julie's original blog "The Julie/Julia Project" on line despite now being published as a book
Hmmm... guess someone was right!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

* Merry Christmas! *

As we enter this Christmas season, I have to reflect on Christmases past. The photo below our Christmas card photo for 2006 after Auburn beat Alabama for the fifth time in a row. "Fear the thumb" was the war cry that year, so we gave everyone a thumbs up after the win. Little Kat flashes a five just to drive home the point. This photo was actually very easy to take. Everyone was excited about it and discussed what to wear and what to do for a full week before we actually took it. My family never misses the opportunity to take a dig our Bama Fan friends and family. We took a good forty or fifty photos and had so many good ones to pic from, it was hard to settle on just one.
The photo at the top is our Christmas card photo for this year. Much has changed in the three years between photos...Auburn didn't beat Alabama, though we did give it the "ole college try." Julz has started college and moved out on her own; Tigger, now as tall as his dad, will soon be driving; Kat, standing barefoot in this picture, seems to have shot up overnight, now towering over her older sister, who is wearing heels so you can't tell she's the shortest. Trying to get everyone together takes an act of Congress, my attempts to get everyone to match (or at least blend) are met with great resistance, and getting everyone to stand up straight and smile (correctly) are near to impossible. Out of twenty pictures, this was the best we could muster.
When you see your children every day, the incremental changes don't seem so drastic. But side by side, you really see and begin to appreciate how much they are growing up.
Merry Christmas Y'all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merry CHRISTmas Y'all

I think this cartoon says a lot about the sad state we are in nowadays.

The Buckets by Greg Cravens, courtesy of

Merry CHRISTmas and EnJoy!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Diabetic Body:An Owner's Manual

I have decided it is time to, not only come to terms with the fact that I have Type II diabetes, but to wage all out war to beat it back to wherever it came from before coming into my life five years ago. I successfully beat it once...once being medicated with two pills a day, to being diet controlled.

But, like everything else, life happens. Work, raising a family,and all the other day to day stresses, I let my diet get out of hand.

After nearly a month of feeing absolutely horrible, I decided I could ignore this spectre no longer.

Last Saturday, after waking with a severe miagrane and nausea, I took my blood sugar reading for the first time in months. It was 200. Not good having had my last meal 12 hours prior.

I've learned over the years, when my blood sugar is high, I generally feel rotten and my body will attempt to rid itself of this excess in various, unpleasant methods. Of course, tinkling, a lot, is the most common, but there are times when I can be mistaken for a stomach flu victim.
I can say, that after I "called a few dinosaurs" my headache was gone and I felt somewhat better.

Later in the afternoon, Cyndi and I went to our local bookstore to wander around, have a cup of coffee and relax, an activity we indulge in at least once a week.

We enjoy wandering around, gathering books to look over and a savor good cup of coffee. There are only a few comfy chairs spread around the store. Next to the pair we chose, there was a long table of books marked half price. Most are artsy, coffee table books, children's books or the latest celebrity cookbooks. But one caught my eye as I prepared to settle into my comfy gray chair. It was titled "The Diabetic Body: An Owner's Manual." With a title like that, I had to add it to my stack.

Having discussed the morning's events, I waved the book at Cyndi. "Guess I need to buy it, huh?" I quipped. "Most certainly" she grinned.

As I thumbed through it, it became more and more apparent that I was meant to stumble across it. Most things I've read about Type II diabetes were lots of medical jargon and things over my head. I wanted to learn about my disease, not earn a degree in it. But this book seemed to be geared more for everyday people like me.

So far, I've learned about how early Greek physicians recorded what we now recognize as "classic" diabetic symptoms, the differences between Type I and Type II, and how most glucometers read blood sugar. I try to take 15 minutes a day to read and those 15 minutes seem to be paying off. I've managed to maintain what looks like the beginning of some serious weightloss, and I'm beginning to feel better.

Finally, I feel like I have a tool to help me get my life back under control!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Free Range Parenting

Today my home page had an article about "the worst mom in America."

Since up to now, I thought that was me, I had to check it out.

Seems that I am not alone in my feelings on "common sense parenting."
Author Lenore Skenazy shares her views on raising "free range kids" in both her blog, and new book "Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry.”

For quite some time now, I've felt like American's are becoming more and more "disabled," thanks in part to "helicopter parenting," coupled with the desire to "succeed via lawsuit" rather than working toward excellence.

Guess what folks…Real Life is NOT “Upward.”
Even if you can't see a scoreboard, someone somewhere is keeping score.

How do you teach someone to deal with life’s disappointments, if you don’t have any teachable moments?!

We as parents must equip our children for life as adults! That means learning to do things for themselves, make decisions by themselves, earn some money for the things they want by themselves, not make the squad because they aren’t skilled enough, then do the work to try out again, and Heaven forbid, lose a football/basketball/soccer game every now and then.

Now I admit that I've done my share of "helicopter parenting" (also known as hovering). As a parent, it's natural for one to want to protect their little one from any harm. But short of adding bubble wrap to diapers, that is just not healthy parenting. Our kids must eventually learn that life has bumps, scrapes and hard knocks along the way, and there is a proper way to deal with them without resorting to a lawsuit or running off to hide under Mommy's apron.

How do you teach a child to be trustworthy, without giving them an opportunity to be trusted?
I am doing my children an injustice if I make all their decisions, pay for everything they want, whenever they want something, and stand over them every minute of their day.

I expect my children to have good self confidence and high self esteem. But I don't want them to think they are better than anyone nor I'm not going to expect them to win every battle. The key to being a true winner, is learning to deal with the disappointment of losing every once in a while. Yeah, it sucks, but you learn from your mistakes and move on. And you learn some humility. Once my son made a snearing comment to an opposing team player in line at the concession stand after a victory in park league ball. I will never forget how embarassed that made me, because it showed such a lack of class. I embraced that teachable moment and I quickly reminded him that only 2 weeks before, his team had lost, and regardless of the outcome, you should always be humble. Nothing is gained by being arrogant and rude.

Whatever happened to working harder at something you want to achieve? How much do you really appreciate the things constantly handed to you, versus the things that you've earned?
What ever happened to rewarding excellence?

I will never forget the local lawsuit back in the late 80's brought by the parents of a high school cheerleader hopeful. When the girl did not perform as well as others (despite being a cheerleader the prior year), and did not make the squad, her parents sued the school in an effort to put her on the squad. Rather than encouraging her to work harder to make the squad next year, they expected the school to just give her a spot.

I also don't believe in "paying" for good grades. Good grades should be expected and students should strive to acheive them without having to be bribed. We don't need more school days Mr. Obama. We need more SCHOOLING in school. The school my children are attending care more about what they are wearing than what they are learning.

And how are we to expect our children to behave in public when they are on their own, if we don't teach them how to behave in public when they are with us? I've seen parent trying to reason/bargain/bribe their kids into behaving. What does that teach the child...if I pitch a big enough tantrum, I will be rewarded! Personally, I remember getting my rear-end torn up when I misbehaved in public. I'm a different person because of that...I learned how not to misbehave in public! Nowadays, someone would probably report my mother and she would be arrested for abuse & neglect. But the children that are truly being abused are the ones who's parents are neglecting to properly prepare them for adulthood. I am not condoning all out physical abuse, but a swat on the hand or behind does get the point across quickly.

As I write this, I see a friend has posted on Facebook about being the only parent in the play area of a fast food restaurant. I'm certain her concern stems from being there with a small child. However, if the parents were doing their job, teaching their children how to behave in public, she need not worry.

Okay, I'll crawl down off of my soap box here.
But I leave you with this...
Bucky Covington's "A Different World"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How I survived my trip to Myrtle Beach

Well I survived my third trip to the Beauties of America Pageant in Myrtle Beach SC the weekend of August 14th relatively unscathed. This year I was lucky enough to be accompanied by my mother. Julz was to attend as well, but a last minute event for work changed her plans. I was feeling really confident and surprisingly relaxed, determined to put forth my best. I had felt better this year about my prepartation than in previous years, and planned to rock my sassy, new haircut.

Despite the threat of rain the entire weekend, Myrtle Beach was beautiful. My mother and I drove up Wednesday, in varying degrees of rain (and narrowly missed the tornado in Conway, SC) and made it around 6:30pm local. During the drive, we shared great conversation, as we chatted about a variety of subjects. We got checked into our room and immediately headed out in search of the closest Mystik tan booth.

Now I have to say something here about Mystik tanning. Alabama may be behind in a lot of things, but Mystik tanning technology is NOT one of them. The salon I "tan" at has a very nice Mystik tanner. There are numbers on the floor that show you where to place your feet, progressing a quarter turn for each of 4 head-to-toe sprays, and the whole process is narrarated (for lack of a better term) by a sultry, female voice. I learned that I, like all other redheads, should use "clear" rather than "bronze" for a subtle, streakfree tan. It was a very pleasant experience.The nearest Mystik tanning booth in Myrtle Beach, however, was quite a different story.

The young lady working the counter was quick to inform us that she was "not from this end of the strand," (whatever that was supposed to mean) and wanted my driver's license and thumb-print (4 images of it to be exact) for me to obtain a one-time spray tan. Okay...

When I told her that I needed the clear, she looked at me like I had two heads. "What do you mean by 'clear' ?" she asked, cocking her head to one side. I explained to her, as it was explained to me, that the "clear" formula was best for those with fair complexions. "Well I don't know what that is, we have Levels 1-3. I think you'd be fine with a Level 2." She seemed annoyed with me and though no one else was currently in the shop, impatient with me. " My mother cautioned me against using something I wasn't familiar with. "What if it turns out bad?" Though I'm not really a risk taker, I had to get this tan in so it could mellow before competition began, so I decided to go for it.

When we reached the spray tan booth, I realized that despite the slick, modern appearance of this "ultra" tanning salon, the Mystik tan booth was rather outdated. Instead of the smooth, four point spray sequence, this machine hap-hazardly sprayed up and down from 4 poorly positioned spouts. The enclosed booth filled with a fog of solution, most of which seemed to collect on the palms of my hands. There was a brief pause in which to change positions and the assault continued. When I emerged, I resembled a newborn zebra, as bronzing solution ran, zig-zagging down my legs.

We moved on to the recommended local sea food restaurant, and after circling the block several times to find the entrance to the adjacent parking lot, we settled in for our 45 minute wait. The service was excellent, as was the food, and despite the need to keep it light, I cleared my plate.

The next morning, we ventured out again and returned to the same sea food restaurant, as it's breakfast buffet was highly recommended as well. This would be the last meal my mother and would be able to share until after the pageant. After a satisfying breakfast, we struck out in search of a Sally's Beauty Supply to obtain a tube of Tanwise Exfoilating Self Tan Remover, and to fulfill my daily Wal-mart visit. I pride myself in knowing the location of a Wal-mart in every city I visit. This knowlege has proven quite valuable over the years, as I have survived many an emergency because of it.

I knew exactly where Wal-mart was and we completed the visit without a hitch. Sally's, however was another matter. We were told that it was in a Wal-mart complex, but not the one from which we had started. Despite obtaining several versions of directions and two telephone calls to the shop, we could not locate the store. We were about to give up hope, when we spotted the oft-mentioned Wal-Mart shopping complex.

With 2 hours to go before orientation, we rushed back to the hotel where I began trying to remove the tanner from my palms. I only succeeded in removing the solution on the back of my hands, up to my wrists. Lovely.

Orientation was great as I became aquainted with many wonderful ladies and was able to finally meet some ladies whom, up until then, I'd only met online. Next we prepared for dinner. Friday nights we are encouraged to "dress like a rock star" for our dinner in the private dining room at the Hard Rock cafe. I always struggle with that instruction as the rock stars I followed either wore spandex or their underwear as outerwear. I settled on a black, zera print dress, and cage shoes with 3 inch stiletto heels. After posing for photos in the lobby, the delegates piled into the Hummer limo and we were off. I enjoyed an excellent veggie burger and the good conversation with new friends. Then we returned to the hotel for a question and answer session with the out-going queens.

I fell into bed, exhausted.

Friday morning I glammed up (because at a pageant, one is NEVER observed outside of their room any less than red-carpet ready) and dashed downstairs for some breakfast. Unfortunately, by the time I reached our breakfast, all that remained was a piece of banana nut bread and coffee. It was gloomy and raining and I was glad that everything was in the same hotel. I couldn't imagine trying to stay clean in my white suit, if traveling while raining. Because I couldn't face interviews without a little protien, I ordered room service and was greeted by the largest omelet I think I've ever had. I painted my nails with 90 second nail polish while my mother ironed the pants of my white Calvin Klein nterview suit. I put the finishing touches on my make up and prepared to get dressed. I am not certain at what point I cut my knuckle open, but I discovered it was bleeding, profusely, as I fastened the waistband of my white pants. Luckily, only 1 drop of blood made it's way onto my pants and it was easily covered by my purple blouse. I donned my purple heels and headed for interview.

After nearly hyperventilating in last years interview, I was relieved to hear peals of laughter as I approaced the interview area. Paula snapped a few quick pics and in no time, it was my turn. It's funny how long five minutes is when you are in the interview chair. My first question began with the statement, "I see you are a baton twirler" and was followed by if I had seen "Miss Congeniality" and if so, what did I consider my favorite scene. I have to admit, the double fire-baton routine IS a favorite, though Sandra Bullock strutting to "Mustang Sally," only to trip over her feet runs a close secong. The next question involved my desire to meet the Duggars, and the answer came easy. My grandmother was one of sixteen children, and the opportunity to see what that might have been like has always intrigued me. The question about how I came to be featured in a nationally published women's magazine caught me off guard, because for a split second, I didn't know what she was talking about, but then I realized that is was my recipe in First ( ). I'm certain the look on my face gave me away, and subsequently cost me points. I was asked what I felt were good characteristics for a good customer service rep, to which I answered "patience and empathy." I don't recall how I came to explain how the process worked, but my apology for the hotel NOT being a client brought the desired chuckle from the judges panel. In fact, the panel laughed easily and often and I exited feeling better about interview then I ever had.

Later, I was told the panel laughed more in my interview, than any other.

Lunch was a yummy box number containing a turkey sandwich, pasta salad, pickle, and cookie.

After a few hours of learning and rehearsing the opening number and stage layout, it was time to head for dinner at Planet Hollywood. The housekeeper had not been around yet, and my tray from breakfast was still on the desk. My mother picked it up and went to deposit it in the hall as instructed. In my purple ombre Ann Taylor Loft dress and bare feet, I leaned out the door to ask a question, only to misjudge where my foot was and the door to slam shut behind me. Stranded in the hall with no key, i.d. or cell phone, we began knocking on doors to call the lobby. It seemed like an eternity before another contestant returned to her room so that we could call the lobby, who seemed disinterested in our plight, and half-heartedly agreed to send Security. Luckily, soon Security came to answer a complaint from another guest (not about us) and after some convincing and cajoling, reluctantly let us into our room, where we had to immediatly produce our i.d's and keys. I only had a few minutes to grab my bag and shoes and dash downstairs.

The sun was finally out, in blazing glory, as we reached Planet Hollywood and the earlier rains made it muggy and unbearable. Being in the first limo-load meant waiting for the remainder of the ladies and then taking a group photo in front of the restaurant. With no shade and no breeze, I was melting by the minute and by the time we were arranged for the group photo, I could tell I was developing a sunburn. Dinner was great, as was the conversaton with my dinner mates. So many interesting and accomplished women!

After dinner, we enjoyed a little down time and I gave a guided tour of the local Wal-mart to a few of my new friends. My mother was still awake when I got back, so I sought her advise on what accessories to wear with my on-stage competition wear. It was then that I discovered that my new navy gown, that had been altered to fit me perfectly would not fit. The zipper lacked an agonizing 5 inches from closing! The wave of panic that swept over me was indescribable.

I quickly set out to seek advice from others in our group. Several ladies offered to loan me their back up gown, including an amazing hot pink goddess gown, but a roll of Saran wrap turned out to be my ultimate life saver. Coupled with a "nervous tummy," by breakfast (which for me was just coffee), I was able to zip my gown.

Saturday was the group rehearsal with the addition of two, slick, ramps from the upper stage to the main stage. My biggest fear was realized as me and many other ladies slipped and fell while rehearsing. Lunch was torture, as I watched those around me enjoy chicken and steak fajitas, a favorite dish. I nibbled on almonds and washed them down with water. I completed my interview for Pageantcast, posed for pictures, then went to prepare for the evening.

The pageant went well and I felt confident and beautiful. My mother enjoyed the show and was impressed with the quality of the production. I fell into bed and slept soundly.

Breakfast and final farewells and we headed for Alabama under a lovely sunny sky.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Adventures at Wally-world

Well, today was quite a day. After not doing anything, and enjoying a relatively lazy day at home yesterday, it was time to venture out for groceries.

It had been 24 hours since my last coffee and even that had not matched my usual java intake. I had a splitting headache and I was very cranky.

I typically park within 10 spaces of the same spot by the grocery side door. No kiding. You can pretty much stand in that first spot closest the side door and count 10 parking spaces in any direction from car will be within that square.Creature of habit? Pretty much...okay... I admit, I'm OCD. Easily forgets where I park? Definately.

So when I noticed a car backing out of a spot in front of the store, I thought, why not grab it? Yeah, it's not where I usually park, but I would still be able to find my way back without much trouble. I should have known better.

As I waited (at a safe distance) for the ancient Cadillac to back out, I paid little attention to the SUV pulling into the empty spot on the other side. Just as the Caddy cleared the spot enough for me to pull in, the SUV pulls all the way through from the other side! WHAT!? SERIOUSLY?!
I just sat there, grill to grill, mouth agape in disbelief.

I begrudingly made my way to my usual spot and parked within my square.

I was seething, wanting to berate the jerk that vacated a perfectly good parking spot to steal mine! As luck would have it, we all reached the buggies at the same time. Despite the overwhelming desire to be nasty, I thought better of it. Instead, I selected one and loooking back, smiled sweetly and said " Wow, great parking space you got there! I guess you didn't see me waiting for it behind the Cadillac, huh?" The slack-jawed fellow shot a look at his wife as I walked into the store, feeling somewhat vindicated.

I managed to shop without running into any former classmates, church members or friends, either mine or those of my children. I counted that as good luck, given my somewhat less than red-carpet-worthy appearance.

I get to the check out and procedeed to check out roughly $130 worth of groceries. When I reach into my wallet, I discover that my bank card is not in it's usual spot. May I remind you, I'm a creature of habit. The fact that my bank card was not where it was supposed to be, for me, was huge. I pawed through my enormous handbag. No luck.

The cashier turns the light off her check stand and begins directing customers elsewhere. She summons the CSR. I offer to check my car, but know that it's not there. I am mortified.

Mentally, I go through the last places I know I've used it. Hard to do as panic is setting in.
On Friday I bought gas and chips and salsa from Chili's ... both in Birmingham. A quick call to the automated telephone banking confirms my last transaction is Chili's.

I call Chili's, and thankfully discover, they have my bank card! Another quick call to the bank confirms that nothing else has been charged on my card.

I make the mad dash to Birmingham to retreive my bank card, squalling all the way.

Enroute back to Walmart, I stop and purchase the largest. strongest coffee I can find. 20 ounces and 20 minutes later, I arrive back at Walmart. retrieve my groceries from the service desk,(Didn't they realize I had dairy products?) and head for home.

I guess the little push of adrenaline and 20oz of coffee was enough to beat back my splitting headache.

So tomorrow, I begin the arduous task of obtaining a new bank card. Yippee!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Questions and Answers

Sorry, I like to keep my blog lighthearted but now that I'm older, I find myself being serious over more and more things.

Thanks to a discussion by local radio personalities Rick and Bubba I've finally heard an explanation of the national debt and our government's current level of spending that I actually understand.

Welcome to the "National Debt Road Trip"

With an explanation like this, I'm sure even Scooter would be able to understand it! The question is, why doesn't everyone else?

The next segment on Rick and Bubba was about czars.
The word "czar" has frightful connotations alone. I, of course, was familiar with the traditional use of the word as the fomer ruling entity of Russia.

But my love for language got the better of me and I had to pull out my trusty dictionary (Webster's II New College Dictionary) and see what else it may mean. I found 3 meanings. The first being the Russian emperor, the second was "autocrat" ( meaning "1.a ruler having absolute or unlimited power 2. person with unrestricted power or authority." !!) and the third, listed as Informal "one in authority:leader"

Apparently, our president has appointed 32 people as "czars" over certain things. (this lists only 28).

Why the president would need these 32 "czars"(persons with absolute, unrestricted power)? I guess a cabinet is not enough. Of course these people will not be able to do it alone, they will need offices and paid staff members and phone bills and lights.

Guess this is what the president meant when he said he'd create jobs.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me...Happy Birthday To Me..

Well, news coverage of the 13th anniversary of my 29th Birthday has been overshadowed by bigger, more tragic news. One thing is certain, this birthday is going to be quite memorable. The loss of two icons from my childhood...Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

Back in the 70's I had loved Farrah Fawcett, not because she was beautiful, but because she was married to Lee Majors, The Six Million Dollar Man. I loved Lee Majors and everything about Lee Majors.

(Coincidentally, my husband got his name because his biological mother loved Lee Majors too. I know what you are thinking....his name is Heath, not Lee. Lee Majors played Heath Barkley on "Big Valley." So she named my husband Heath. It was the 70's, I think she may have had a little more than twighlight sleep when she had him..but I digress.)

I had been a "Charlie's Angel's" fan, but not because of Farrah, but because of Kate Jackson, who grew up in Birmingham. Seeing Kate every week on tv reminded me that anyone who worked hard enough could escape from Alabama. (Funny, I consider Alabama a refuge now)

Through these connections, I had begun to admire and be swept up in the phenomenon that was Farrah.

I had begun working on my feathered hair

but I did not perfect it until I was much older.....

I had loved that she was from Texas and had a Southern drawl just like I did. At the time I'd never given any serious thought to her acting ability (or lack of it at the time) and it was not until "Burning Bed" that I saw she was not just another pretty face.

I had watched, with rapt attention, the documentary of her three year battle with cancer. Her talk of strength and faith left little doubt that you can't bring a good girl, (an Angel no less) down.

Yesteday Farrah earned her real angel wings.

Unfortunately, darling Farrah was later upstaged by the quintessential showman, Micheal Jackson.

I had been a fan of Michael Jackson since I was small. During their hey-day, The Jackson Five was my favorite group. I am told that one morning at breakfast, I announced that I would be marrying Michael Jackson when I grew up. My startled mother went about telling me why I couldn't...with things like "he doesn't live here" and "he's older than you."

Little did we know...I may not have been his type.

The soundtrack of my life contains many a Micheal Jackson song. "ABC" was one of my favorite songs, as well as "Ben" that I didn't realize was about a rat until I was older. I bought "Thriller" with my Christmas money in 1982.

One of the first pep rally routines I choreographed was to "Wanna Be Startin' Somthing," followed by one to "Beat It," and one to "Thriller" that I had cut well short of it's full six minutes and spliced in Vincent Price's ominous laugh as an ending.

On my birthday in 1984(another memorable one), the Gloved One came to Birmingham to rehearse for the upcoming Victory Tour. The road crew needed a place to practice set up and tear down, along with the special effects and the BJCC filled the bill. It was supposed to be a secret, but as with any juicy gossip, word got out. The Sheraton Civic Center was mobbed with adoring fans. I remember watching on tv as MJ step out on a balcony to wave a hanky at the crowd below. My mother would not let me drive to Birmingham, so I could not join the group.

That was also the same weekend, my mother's best friend reported being visited at her mother's Trussville home, by an odd little old man, escorted by 4 other men, wanting to speak to her about Jehovah. Hmmm...

And now, both of these people will finally get to see the face of Jehovah.

I can only hope their hearts were in the right place, so that they will be too.

As for me and my birthday, I can only remind myself, that "any day above ground is a good day" and another opportunity to witness to those around me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Exciting news!!

Hall of Famer Talks about Miracle League on Hanity!!

I was excited to find an email about MLB Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew speaking on Sean Hannity's about a Miracle League event!! (Unfortunately, I didn't check my MML mail box until today, so I missed it)

This is the national exposure we need!!


Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's Just Little League....Not the World Series

I spent Thursday evening doing something I haven't done in nearly 5 years. Something I vowed I would never do again. I went to my youngest nephew's very first All-Star game.

Now don't get me wrong, I love my nephew. It's the atmosphere of the average, American, Little League baseball park that I abhor.

I know what you are thinking..."Joy, you volunteer at a ball park." The Miracle League park is much different. Everyone is loving, supportive and there to have fun. It was after an ugly incident as a ball park mom when my husband was our son's coach that made me watch my first Miracle League game. I remember watching and thinking, " THIS is what baseball should be."

But I digress....

"Scooter is 6 and is playing for the very first time in the coach-pitch division of his hometown park league

For his first time to ever play a sport, he is surprisingly good. He has played a variety of positions with efficiency, and was chosen from his regular team to play on the All Star team, even over players that had been playing since cap ball. We were all very excited.

I rode with my mother and her husband, about an hour from our hometown to the park, out in the middle of no where. It was everything I remember from my days as a ball park mom....heat, bugs, dirt, crappy bleachers. Even the smell, a mixture of Off, sweat, Alabama red clay, and over-cooked hot dogs, was the same.

The park was your standard "clover" design, four ball fields extending out from a central concession building, that carried your standard ball park fare: Hot Dogs, hamburgers, fries, and nachos.

I will have to say my park has much better nachos. I am not even certain what we received could be defined as "nachos," bland, round, tortilla chips with congealing, canned cheese poured over them. And they were expensive! Nachos at my park (the good kind) are a full dollar cheaper. For what we paid for a plate of nachos, we could have brought them in from Chili's. I thought, "I'm blowing my diet over this?!"

The boys were very excited to be playing in new uniforms and they posed for a team photo before they warmed up. We took our seats at the top of the wooden bleachers, rubbed on (ineffective) bug repellant, and prepared for the game. That is when I identified them....the overly aggressive ball park parent.

People who do not have children, or people who do not have children that play organized team sports will have no concept of what I am about to discuss, so bear with me as best you can.

On the other hand, those who do have children, involved in some sort of team sport, will not only know exactly what I am talking about, they will also quickly identify the parent in their own organization that I will be describing. Baseball, football, soccer, hockey, tennis, volleyball...doesn't matter. Trust me, there are versions of the same people in every youth league sport across the country.

These people make up about 2% of ball park parents. They are extremely serious and extremely focused on the performance of their child and or the others on the team. They are loud, boorish, and can be violent. They have less than complimentary things to say to the officials, coaches, visitors and even their children. You have, no doubt, seen them on CNN, as they are being led away in handcuffs from their child's sporting event.

More often than not, they also have more than one child and are usually unable to keep up with whomever is not on the field. In this case, it was a little girl, about 2 or 3, who I will call "Sally."

Sally's brother was on Scooter's team and his parents set up on the front row of bleachers, by the fence between third and home. Super Mom was dressed in "daisy dukes," a halter top that showed her belly button ring, and wedge sandals. It would have been a cute outfit on a smaller girl, but the muffin top rolling over the top of her shorts made it less than appealing. I will give her credit for moving behind the bleachers to smoke, which both her and her husband seemed to do in shifts. We sat in a never ending cloud of smoke. It did little to deter the mosquitos.

The "chatter" started almost immediately, loud, boardering on unruly. Sally, drew in the dirt with her fingers, unnoticed, and it was not long before she was covered in red clay from head to toe. She had a tiny yellow cast on her left arm, the tiniest one I've ever seen. Most likely an injury sustained as she played, unsupervised, during the regular season.

Sally ran to and fro, in the open space between our field and the next. She picked up things on the ground, and sampled the nachos abandonned by her parents on the end of the bleachers. She ran back and forth, cheese covered chip in each grubby hand. I soon heard the unmistakable sound of a little mouth with too much food to swallow and turned around just in time to see her vomit all over the front of her shirt. She ran, wailing, to her mother, who only looked up from the game long enough to strip the shirt from her body. She ran around shirtless. I watched her nervously. Someone needed to. Anyone could have picked that child up and walked away with her.

A scant 10 minutes later, Sally was at her mother's side again, swaying from side to side, singing "MAH-MEE, I have to TEE TEE." The official made a rather controversial call, and Sally's mom was on her feet, shouting angrily onto the field. Sally swayed from side to side. Everyone in our section knew she had to go, right up until she did. Everyone except her mother, oblivious to puddle on the ground next to her. Obviously embarrased, Sally attempted to climb up into her mother's lap, and only then did Super Mom realize she had wet her pants.

She spanked her all the way to the car.

I looked at my mother. Her eyes told me that we were thinking the same thing.

When Sally and her mother returned, she was running, pulling Sally along by her good arm. "Whad-I miss?! whad-I miss?!" She dropped Sally's hand, and returned to her seat.

There were several bad calls, and the rules seemed to change each time our team was winning.

I watched with amazement as parents around me came unglued. Red faces and throbing neck veins were all around me. All I could think was, 'geez people, these boys are 6. It's not the World Series.' Super Mom became so beligerant, our team was "warned" that further disorderly conduct would result in an automatic out. Sally continued to play in the dirt and eventually curled up in the folding chair her father had vacated, where she fell asleep.

Unfortunately we lost, but Scooter was excited to have all his family come out to cheer him on.

As we left the park, Super Mom was carrying Sally's limp, sleeping body against her shoulder, hissing angrily about filing a complaint with the league and giving someone a piece of her mind.

On the long ride home, my mother said she could tell I wanted to intervene in the Sally situation. She asked what stopped me from saying something. I told her that I'd rather not wind up in the know, "Moody Woman Killed By Crazed Little League Fan."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

It's Memorial Day 2009, and while we will be barbequeing and enjoying the day off, we will be taking the time to remember those who fought for our country. I've made memorial flags for the grandfathers and we will be taking them to the cemetary later this afternoon.

Remember:Freedom Isn't Free

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Anniversary Baby...

Today is my 10th wedding anniversary!

(I'll post a pic when I can get to a scanner that works)

I woke up this morning with Barry Manilow's "Looks Like We Made It" running through my head. It's funny because sometimes it seems like we've been married forever and sometimes we look at each other and say "wow, can you believe it?" We have been together longer than the sum total of our first marriages combined, and longer than many of our friends marriages.

We had once talked about renewing our vows, including our original wedding party. I had wanted to wear my wedding gown again, but I doubt it would fit now. A party would have been nice, but thanks to the economy, we will be spending a quiet evening at home instead.

I have to laugh, as thunderstorms are in the forecast today, just as they were 10 years ago.
Two hours before our ceremony, the sky turned black and it rained relentlessly until 45 minutes before we walked down the aisle. Too late to take any photos outdoors. Attendance was sparse; we had a lot of left-over cake. The next day at church, (yes, we post-poned our honeymoon to spend our first day as husband and wife in church...our Sunday school class enjoyed cake with their coffee ) many people came up to tell us they "would have come, but it rained." I had laughed and replied "that's okay, we got married anyway."

But it was truly symbolic. The first of many storms we have weathered.

I'm told that if you can make it through the first 10 years, the rest get easier.
(of course none of those people were my parents, my step-siblings, or former in-laws...all who divorced after the 17, 25, & 30 year mark, but I guess there are exceptions to every rule, eh?)

I guess that makes sense. Couples go through a lot in 10 years time, and we are no exception.

In the first 12 months of our marriage alone, Darling Hubby had 2 total-loss car accidents and walked away unscathed; I dealt with an apendectomy, infertility, PCOD, and a hysterectomy.

In the years that followed we have been through 6 cars, a new mortgage, a refinance, a major custody fight, diabetes, alternative school, O.D.D, juvenile detention, and boot camp, clinical depression, a baseball-sized breast lump (benign), declining health of our parents,a land despute with a utilty company, the death of 2 grandparents, hypertension,2 clothes dryers, facing and overcoming financial ruin, acne, a year of car-pooling in the lone car, A.D.D., obesity, 3 bleeding ulcers, 8 lawn mowers, sleep apnea, and a stroke scare. There was even a one week seperation about five years ago.

I'm sure there is more, but this is all that comes to mind.

And I am sure there is more to come.

But just as the couple in the old adage about the wedding bell, we remember, nothing is too hard when we pull together.

Maybe I will fit in my wedding dress again, in time to renew our vows on our 20th anniversary.

The next decade begins today.

Happy Anniversary Baby...I've got you on my mind.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tweedley Deedley Dee, Tweet, Tweet, Tweet-Tweet!

I have just learned that I am, once again, behind the times as far as technology is concerned.
I don't Twitter.

Or is that Tweet?

I never really thought it'd matter, but over the past few months, weird little emails have been coming to my inbox telling me that a more technically savy friend wants to "follow" me.
Funny thing is, these same friends know how "technically challenged" that I am, so they should know I can't "tweet."

I had a similar situation with Facebook. While I was able to Myspace with some proficiency, it became time consuming. I had set up a Facebook account, only to find I didn't have enough time to manage it too. Daily, I receive messages that friends and acquaintances are adding me to their Facebook Friends. Unfortunately, I don't remember the password, so I can't do anything about it. Right now, I have a ton of people waiting for me to befriend them, probably thinking I'm a snob. Sorry y'all...just challenged.

I will say this, I at least know what Twitter is.

I had to laugh at Sunday's "Desperate Housewives" episode when characher Tom Scavo laments on not knowing what Twitter was. My mother and I view DH together and call one another during commercial breaks to discuss. I held my phone in my hand in the upcoming commercial break, eagerly anticipating her call to ask me about Twitter, but that call didnt come. I forgot...she watches Oprah.

I just signed up for Plinky about a month seems to be kinda like Twitter. Someone posts a question every day (or prompt) and you go on the site and answer it. I'm "JoyInAL" there. People "follow" you there too.

The whole "following" thing kinda creeps me out a bit. But I guess it would, having dealt with a stalker. (THAT is a story for another day). I understand that your actual friends wanting to follow you, but people that don't know you? That's just odd to me. Why would anyone that doesn't know me care what I was doing?

So I went to Twitter, signed up and sent my first "tweet." I'm Joy_in_AL there too.

Tweet me!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hey Miss Garofalo...are these folks racist too?

Actress Janine Garofalo has decided that all those who participated in the Tax Day Tea Parties were "a bunch of teabagging rednecks," adding "this is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up."

Racist rednecks that hate a black man in the White House huh?

Well, Miss Garofalo, how do you explain these tea party attendees:

Carlton CJ Williams, who sang "God Bless America" at the Cleveland, Ohio Tea Party

These fellows at the Tea Party in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Hey, that's a Southern state!)

How about we go a little further South ...

Here is Huntsville, ALABAMA (Isn't Alabama the cradle of redneck civilization?)

I bet Alan Keyes didn't realize he'd be labeled a "racist redneck" when he agreed to be the KEYNOTE speaker at the Tea Party in Washington, DC.

Miss Garofalo seems to be confused. It seems that American's of all races are concerned bout being Taxed Enough Already.

A neighbor of mine is Vietnamese. Her take on the whole situation? "I've already fled from a communist country one time in my life."

Just because Americans don't want to be taxed into debt, or be forced into socialism does not make them either racist or redneck.

Taxation has NOTHING to do with the pedigree of our president.

All I can say is that I HOPE that I have some CHANGE left in 4 years.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I Witnessed a Miracle Today

I had to blog on this because I was taught part of recieving a miracle is sharing the miracle with others.

It was overcast and a little sprinkly when I reached the Miracle League park today. I grabbed my umbrella, not really sure if I'd need it and made my way to the souvenir stand.

The rain picked up and we had to delay our first game. After about 30 minutes the rain stopped and we squeegied the field and the Braves vs. the Cardinals game began. We were about mid way through the 2nd inning when the bottom dropped out. Everyone dashed for the dugouts.

It rained hard for about 15 minutes and players started leaving. Though it has a drain system, the hard rain was too much for it and the low-lying home team dugout where several Braves waited flooded. One of the Braves, a player I will call C., is wheelchair bound. Now this is no ordinary wheelchair, it's an electric wheelchair custom made just for him. It costs more than my car. The coach had manuvered him to the only dry spot in the dugout. I grabbed my umbrella and made my way to the dugout to help sheild C. from the rain.

Over my past four years with the Miracle League, I've learned quite a bit about the costs associated with caring for both physically and mentally challenged individuals. I don't know how they do it. I do know that insurance companies do not pay nearly enough for the care of those with special needs and am amazed that these parents are making it. I thank the Lord continually that my children are healthy. But I can say, I've seen that because of these costs , many of our team parents do without so that their children can have the best care possible.

Such is the case with C.'s mom. When the time came to get a new vehicle, she could not afford a van and had to opt for a pick-up truck in order to move C. and his chair around. After one unfortunate trip through the rain where the tarp covering the chair blew off, shorting out the chair, she learned not to venture out in the rain.

She had made a tough call today, bringing C. out when the weather was suspect. But C. loves coming to the park so much, she chanced it only to be stranded in the rain. We all tried to think of ways to help, but she had been in this situation before. She kept saying that they would just have to wait it out. When it was suggested that she call the assisted living facility he lived in,nearly an hour East of the park, to see if they could send for him. This made him very upset and another coach tried to soothe him as she got on the phone. She said, "it's that or pray for the rain to stop." I said "well, I guess we should do that."

I stood over C. shielding him from the blowing rain with my umbrella, while she made the call. I might not be very helpful at much else, but the least I could do was pray. As she spoke to someone at the facility, I bowed my head and prayed silently that God would stop the rain, just long enough to get C. back home. I said "Amen" as she was getting the word that they had no one to help.

That is when it happened.

The rain, that had been blowing in on us from all sides of the dugout, stopped as if turning off a faucet!

We all looked at each other in disbelief! Did that just happen?!

We moved into high-gear. She retrieved the truck and drove it right up to the dugout. We strapped C. in the front seat and everyone went to work trying to cover the chair to keep it dry on the drive. Then we took a minute to thank the Lord for our little miracle and sent them on the way before the rain started up again.

It's been an hour and a half, and I hear the rain again.
I have faith they made it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

20 Years Ago Today...

20 years ago today I went through a life-altering event.

I gave birth.

At 8:28 a.m. Julz will be 20 years old.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's here! It's here!

It is finally here! The May edition of All You magazine (available exclusively at Walmart) that features my recipe!

I was so excited when I got it that I wanted to show someone. Usually our Walmart is crawling with folks I know, and the worse I look the more of them there seems to be. I practically had a class reunion over on the cold & flu aisle last winter when I arrived at Wallyworld in my pj's at 1:00am to purchase the coughing-sneezing-stuffy-head medicine.

Would you believe, at this time I did not know a soul ?! So I shared my happy news with my cashier who seemed somewhat impressed.

At any rate, you can see me at the bottom of page 26. They "flipped" my picture (meaning the right-facing photo was reveresed so it appears I am facing left instead) and it looks funny. ...well I think it looks funny.

Kat was kinda undone because she is the one who loves to cook this recipe and they of course called it "Joy's pasta bake." My little chef has gone on strike.

I thought I'd try some of the other reader-submitted recipes and I can recommend the "Taco Soup" on page 25 but it makes a lot. I swapped from my largest sauce pan to my stock pot before I was done. I was looking at the "Pizzadillas" too...they look fun and easy.

Bon Apetite' ! or as I like to say


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15th is upon us

The Buckets Comic strip by Greg Cravens courtesey of
I had to share this comic strip because it's exactly how I feel every year paying taxes.
I heard on the radio today that 90% of the taxes are paid by only 40% of the population.
My best bud/partner in crime Cyn and I are even thinking about checking out the local Tea Party ( I have my tea bags hanging from my rear-view mirror in support. Radio hosts Rick and Bubba will be reporting from it on Sean Hannity tonight.
Also on the radio, was a local blue grass group "Three On A String." I am very familiar with them as they were really popular in our area for the past 30+ years and at one point, Andy McGinniss, the dad of my friend Ben, played with them.
Every year, on tax day, the Rick and Bubba show have them on to sing their wildly popular "Tax Song."
My favorite line is " If ten percent is good enough for Jesus, it ought to be good enough for Uncle Sam."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happy Times

These are my 4-k and 5-K graduation photos from Valley View Kindergarten, circa 1971 & '72 respectively.
These photos are proof of two things
1) I was blonde as a child
2) I've favored only two hairdos my entire life...extremely long ponytails and chin length bobs.
I remember I loved that yellow dress and the part about it I loved the most, a yellow satin rose, my mother refused to let me wear.
I loved Valley View and many life long friendships were forged there.
When my baby brother was old enough to attend kindergarten, my mother went to work, so it was necessary to not only find something to do with him, but something to do with me after school as well.
Enter Happy Times.
Happy Times was a magical place with a large play yard that had several school-style swingsets, a jungle gym and slide. The yard overlooked the Little Cahaba and there were always mother ducks and ducklings waddling about or playing in the creek, just beyond the chain link fence. There were tons of toys and activites and everything was child size, including a special group of toilets.
The best part was that I could play with my friends until my mother came to collect us.
The worst part was Mrs Grimes.
Mrs. Grimes owned Happy Times, and you didn't dare cross her. She was a stern disiplinarian and the sound of her voice struck fear in the hearts of all who crossed the threshold at Happy Times.
In the three years I spent there only once did I ever face the wrath of Mrs. Grimes and to this day, I maintain it was not my fault. (Thanks Russell!) I remember her taking my face in her hands and bringing it close to hers and sternly telling me that I would behave or else. I just knew she hated me.
In the summer, we would go to the city pool for swimming lessons and then swim until lunch. We'd go on field trips on the big bus and generally have lots of fun.
When I was a life guard at the city pool in my late teens, I always looked forward to the Happy Times kids. Yes, there were a ton of them, but because of Mrs. Grimes, they were always well behaved. Heck, I was an adult and she scared the bee-jeeseys out of me.
By the time my own children were ready for daycare, there was only one place to go. Mrs Grimes had long since retired, but sold the business to her cousin, who ran it with the same passion as she did.
One of my best memories of Happy Times, was not while I was a student, nor while my children attended there. It was the summer I turned 21. My 21st birthday to be exact. My last year as a lifeguard at the city pool. Just before I got my "real job."
The last bus-load of Happy Timers had just arrived and everyone was to be on the pool deck, waiting for their swimming teachers. Usually this part of the morning was very noisy and busy, but as I stepped out of the pool house onto the deck, it was deathly silent.
Assembled on the pool deck, was the entire group of Happy Timers, waiting patiently. Mrs Grimes, grinning from ear to ear, lead the group in "Happy Birthday" in as perfect a unison as one can orchestrate with several dozen children, ages 3 to 12. When they were done, I was mobbed, everyone trying to give me a birthday hug.
But most special was one from Mrs. Grimes. She put my face in her hands and brought it up close to hers and said "I'm proud of you."
Happy times, indeed.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Power of Prayer

I am a firm believer in the power of prayer. There have been too many example throughout my life.

The latest is the reports that North Dakota's Red River crested below 40 feet, well below the expected, devastating 43 feet.

Now the focus is praying the levees hold while the river subsides.

Let us pray...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Matters Most

This week has been most unique, and is surely testing the gray-covering power of Miss Clairol.

The week began by not being able to fix my freshly cut hair. I had been growing it out for over a year. It had made it's way past my shoulders and close to mid-way down my back. I had wanted it long for versitility but after months of catching it up in a ponytail, I finally decided to get a hair cut. A cute, shoulder length, modified bob, with side swept bangs. When all was done, there was as much hair on the floor as was left on my head. The stylist was able to tame my thick, wavy hair with an expert blow-out. It looked fabulous and healthy when I walked out of the salon. The next day, however, I was reminded why I kept my hair long. I look like Rosanna Rosanna-Danna's Irish cousin.

My baby, Kat, has turned 14. Not that she hasn't already been acting 14 for some time, but she is now actually 14. Where has the time gone? It will not be long before she leaves the nest, like her sister did 2 years ago this August. My son, Ty, 15, upon sensing my meloncoly, assured me he will never leave home. Great.

Work has been extra stressful, as one of my team members moved on to a job closer to home. Because of the ecomony, we won't be able ro replace her any time soon.

The loss of a classmate to a heart attack has me pondering my own mortality. Granted, Daryl had one up on me by having a heart/lung transplant, but he was my age all the same.

My best friend, winning the war on her waistline, gleefully informed me she was just 3 lbs from loosing 50lbs since October. In the meantime, I am having trouble breathing in all the spandex support garments I'm wearing to hold back my belly bulge.

But all this pales in comparison to what my friend Angela and her family are going through right now. They have fled their home in Fargo, as flood waters inch ever closer to their house. Uncertain what may happen to their home, they are thankfully safe, secure, and together.

You can read it in her own words and see the pics here

She began telling me earlier this week, about the long hours spent aiding the sand bagging efforts, all the while telling me that things near her home were fine and that others were far worse off. Where she would manage to find the time to text me and other concerned friends is beyond me. I did not realize until I saw a news report that night, that not only was it raining, it was also snowing.

Being raised in the South, and living all my life in the South, I tend to take a few things for granted. One is that we have 4 very distinct seasons. I forget that the rest of the country is not that lucky. Winter is over by March and we begin to prepare for Spring. That very day it was 75 degrees in Alabama.We were running around in shorts and tee-shirts and at the same time, it was snowing in Fargo, North Dakota to beat the band. Now it had snowed in April my Freshman year of college and we had the blizzard of 93 in March, but those were freak occurances.

My brother had been stationed in Minot ND during his time in the Air Force. Someone had joked before he got there that the unofficial motto was "Why not Minot, Freezin's the Reason" and he soon learned why. It had snowed there for 8 months out of that year. He saw more snow that one year, than he had his entire life in Alabama. But I digress...

Wednesday, Angela relayed that CBS had interviewed her and her daughter after spotting the 11 year old sandbagging. In every message she added, "we're okay."

It was only after seeing the photos of her home, the wall of sandbags less than 20 feet from her house, holding back water from what was normally a dry field, I realized all was not okay.

It's a helpless feeling knowing that you can't do anything to help from so far away. So I did the only thing I knew I could do. I sent the largest case of coffee we produce for Ang to carry to the volunteers. I couldn't do much else, but I could warm a few folks up after spending the day wet and cold. I express-shipped it Thursday afternoon to arrive Friday, but the water would prove to be faster than UPS.

Thursday, after several days spent working on the sand bag line, Ang and Jared focused their attention on their own home again. They spent the remainder of the day carting valuable possesions to the second floor of their home, even stacking some things on cinderblocks for added protection. The need for evacuation was emminent. At 11pm. they packed up their four children and left for Moorehead, MN, only to be sent on due to a sewage problem.

When I spoke to her at 8:30 Friday morning, her usually bubbly , cheerful voice was a mixture of fatigue and fear.

I hung up the telephone and cried.

She had told me where to call and let those coordinating the volunteer efforts know about the case of coffee. The woman who answered the phone thanked me over and over. She also commented on my "darling accent."

Later in the afternoon, I heard that they made it to Minneapolis safely. A post this morning reads that they are enjoying the indoor pool and the will be touring the zoo.

An eternal optimist, Angela decided that, while she is worried what they will find when they are able to return home, she had come to terms with what might be lost. "It is just stuff and can be replaced" she blogs.

Lucky girl....she was able to save what matters most.

Want to know how YOU can help?
Follow the following links to find out how.

Donations (monetary, food, etc..) are greatly needed.

Please visit: and donate - these monetary donations will be doubled and kept local. These funds will assist with shelters and volunteer efforts.

Also, donate to the Salvation Army -
and Red Cross -
both organizations will be instrumental in recovery efforts.

Local radio coverage in Fargo and

..but above all PRAY

Pray that the water stops rising and the levees hold
Pray for those left behind with no where to go to ride out the flood
Pray for those who stayed behind to help
Pray for those who had to leave behind everything they owned

“ The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayers of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Making the most of second chances

My hometown has one less citizen today.
My classmate, Daryl Barkley passed away.
He was one lucky son of a gun. Not because he is the younger brother of basketball legend, Charles, but because God had given him a second chance at life.
Six years ago, despite putting his body through hell, he got a new start with a heart and lung transplant.
After the transplant, Daryl was a much different person from the one I grew up with. Anti-rejection drups took the place of recreational ones. He ate the right things, he excercised, he won a medal in the Transplant Olympics. He was caring and sincere and funny.
He made the most of his second chance.
We will miss you Daryl.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Somethings just need to be sacred...

Last night I had this weird, uneasy feeling.."a disturbance in The Force..." as Obiwan would say.

I had retreated to our bedroom to watch t.v., while the rest of my family watched American Idol in the living room. I don't really get into that show anymore and since it seems to come on every night, I've taken to the sanctity of the bedroom to watch something of my own choosing.

It struck me all at once and I had heard my youngest squeal something about "loving Carrie Underwood's new song, " but paid it very little attention....until....

my husband snatched open the bedroom door...

"That's just WRONG!" he exclaimed..."just wrong!"

"What?!" I responded, startled, but certain an explaination was soon to follow

"Carrie Underwood singing Home Sweet Home!"

I gasped! "You are joking!"

As a heavy-metal, head-banger from way back, I couldn't quite put my head around that one. Home Sweet Home is my undisputed favorite power ballad. Everyone knows how I dislike remakes (with only a handful of notable exceptions) and how they never compare to the original.

On the drive into work today, my favorite radio duo, Rick and Bubba, fellow children of the 80's, were musing the exact same conundrum.

Then they played her version. It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't The Crue.
It reminded me of listening to my favorite song redone by Muzak or Conway Twitty.
They played Motley Crue's version in the same segment, but the damage was already done.

I feel kinda like I'm walking around in only one high-heeled shoe....not quite right. I want to like it, but those hair-band roots run deep. Was Carrie Underwood even born then?
Is nothing sacred? Can't 80's music be off limits?

I will let you decide for yourself which might be better

The original

Carrie's version

I remember first seeing Motley Crue at a record store where they were signing copies of their single "Too Young to Fall in Love." Me and a well-endowed friend got free tickets to that night's concert because she flashed Vince Neil.

The Crue wasn't the only hair band I followed: I first saw KISS when I was about 10 and then rocked with them again later on their sold-out reunion tour. I had fought my way to the front row to see Ratt, Cinderella,Warrant and even praised the Lord to the heavy-metal stylings of Stryper. I was lucky enough to see Bon Jovi for the first time on the front row thanks to the father of a wealthy college chum who bought out the right side for her birthday and saw Def Leppard everytime their feet touched Alabama soil. I even possess a Rikki Rockett drum stick, handed to me by a guy in sunglasses and a dirty t-shirt. I learned, 20 years too late, that that was a "special" backstage pass, handed out to ladies that caught the Poision drummer's eye. (Well, I WAS having a good big-hair day at that concert).

Though I hung up my leather and lace a long time ago, every now and again I relive those glory the safety of my enclosed car.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Only in Alabama

Only in Alabama can it be 75 one weekend, then snow the next!

Thankfully the ground was warm enough that we didn't have ice, but just enough snow for fun.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Well I missed "Flashback Friday" which this week is "Love, look at the two of us".

I had picked one of my very favorite photos of my husband, and me. It was one of the very first photos of us together, taken sometime in January 1997. I can't post the photo now because the stupid scanner is dead.

It's a candid shot, taken at Darllng Hubby's bachelor pad by one of our friends. We were getting ready to go dancing. He had just given me a vase with yellow roses in it. He didn't know those were my favorites, he picked them because they were pretty. He is wearing blue jeans and a hunter green button-down.I am wearing a black t-shirt and size 10 blue jeans (really miss those!). He is sitting on the couch, I am sitting on the coffee table facing him, singing. He has his hand on my cheek. It is obvious we are in love.

I'm singing "Head Over Feet" by Alanis Morrisette. It's one of two songs that we call "our song."
It's sentiment was close to home, for both of us. Both of us left scarred by our first marriages. Left to believe that we would never find love again.
Neither of us looking.

These are the words:

I had no choice
but to hear you
You stated your case
time and again
I thought about it

You treat me like
Im a princess
Im not used to liking that
You ask how my day was

Youve already won me over
in spite of me
Dont be alarmed if I fall
head over feet
Dont be surprised if I love you
for all that you are
I couldnt help it
Its all your fault

Your love is thick
and it swallowed me whole
Youre so much braver
than I gave you credit for
Thats not lip service

You are the bearer
of unconditional things
You held your breath
and the door for me
Thanks for your patience

Youre the best listener that Ive ever met
Youre my best friend
Best friend with benefits
What took me so long

I've never felt
this healthy before
Ive never wanted something rational
I am aware now
I am aware now

You've already won me over
in spite of me
Don't be alarmed if I fall
head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you
For all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

We've just began our 13th year together and will be celebrating 10 years of marriage this May.

We've had our ups and downs, like most couples.

And I'm still head over feet.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Movie Night: "He's Just Not That Into You"

A group of us from work had a girl's nite and went to see the new movie "He's Just Not That Into You" last night. Very interesting movie. I was surprised that it was rated PG-13, given the subject matter, it could have been much more.

I had a hard time paying attention to the movie, because I kept getting distracted by my own thoughts. I could "see" people that I know in each of the characters (myself included) and I'd think "oh, that reminds me of so-and-so," or "hey, that happened to such-and-such" or the most telling, "well. I'VE been THERE!"

Writers/Stand-up comedians Liz Tuccillo and Greg Behrendt (who makes a small cameo) hit the nail on the head with this one.

According to my husband, I am not the best person to go to the movies with, because I'm a talker. You know, the person who talks throughout the movie about "oh, I like that sweater" or "isn't that the guy that was in that show with the girl that did that thing..." or " NO STUPID, DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR!" I also like to figure out plots and subplots and invent my own dialouge. ( never seemed like much to me, but here, written out, I can see where it might be annoying.) Because of this, when I go to the movies, I try to sit next to the other "talkers" and let the 'non-talkers" sit on the ends.

When I'm with other "talkers" it's okay, because we talk to each other. My mother and I, for example, do quite well together. We sit together and share information throughout the movie, and still enjoy ourselves. My brother is another. Guess that was just the way we grew up, going to movies with Mother.

My husband, however, hates to take me to/watch a movie with me, simply because, he wants to watch the movie in silence. It's very annoying to have something to say, but no one with which to share it.

While discussing the movie, one of my co-workers told me about a theater in Huntsville, the Monaco, that offers an upscale viewing experience for those over 21. Apparently for a few dollars more, you can sit in a large, reclining seat, eat, drink, and socialize, all while enjoying the movie. It sounds like it might be worth the drive to Huntsville.

Here's the blurb from their website:

ELEVATE YOUR EXPERIENCE AT PRIVE' A private glass elevator awaits the Prive' guest, taking them to the exclusive 21 and over Prive' level of Monaco. Prive' guests will enjoy an elevated lounge featuring a Wine Tasting Bar, appetizer dining, and upscale concessions. Enjoy a glass of wine while watching the show along with reserved seating in our custom-designed high back leather recliners. Prive' VIP delivers the ultimate luxurious experience.

Of course, I could also wait for the movie to come out on video and do the same thing at home.
The floor won't be sticky and there's no line for the bathroom.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Flashback Friday: It's Inner Beauty that Counts

A blogger I adore..."Anne Glamore" over in My Tiny Kingdom does this thing every Friday that she calls Flashback Friday.
This week, she tells about her boys school photos and reminisces on her own jr.high school photos and the awkwardness of those delicate years.

I can relate to the feeling of having one's prepubesent body suddenly having a mind all it's own and the hapless, hopeless feeling that things were about to get ugly.

I present this as proof.....a photo collage of my 6th, 7th, an 8th grade school photos.

I refer to this work as "The Awkward Years."
My 6th grade year, despite my best efforts, my hair would fix itself. I am wearing my favorite drawstring-neck peasant shirt, that unfortunately, didn't photograph very well. To the people who always tell me that I look like my is proof that I look more like my dad. I think that it was taken just after gym, which is why I look somewhat dishevealed. Note that my ears are covered, because they stuck out....a lot. But not quite as much as a tooth on the bottom right side of my mouth. It stuck out like the bulldog on the Looney Toon cartoons. I had become a pro at only smiling with my top teeth to cover this very embarrasing flaw. Not a one of these photos were given out. I have every last one of them.
7th grade, I was beginning to get control of my hair. My "wings" were still a little wayward thanks to the wicked cowlick I have right up front, but you can at least tell they are supposed to be wings. I loved this outfit...a jade green color-block sweater and matching jade green pants. Despite my numerous insecurities, when I wore this outfit, I thought I was the bomb. Make note of the jade cloisonne' necklace. They were all the rage that year, and I was the first one who had one. I loved saying cloisonne' because it sounded expensive. It was such an improvement over the previous years photo, I actually gave this one to my family. Ears still conveniently covered.
8th grade, as you can tell, I am getting more confident. It awas never as evident before, but with the three photos together, it is very obvious, as my smile is getting bigger, though still covering that off-set tooth. Mother let me wear some make up. Look how much confidence the Bonne Bell lipgloss and the Pink Cheekers blush seem to give me! The hair is much improved, (though still covering my ears). I was getting up at 4:30 a.m to acheive this look and I was darn proud of it. This was the year I got my braces and thus the last year I only smiled with my top teeth. I loved this photo so much, I'm quite surprised I have this one.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Thick I Hab A Code....

Zits by Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman...courtesey of

I feel like crap... but I'm here.

Anyday above ground...right?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Who'd have thunk it...?!

Well I may finally get published in a major national magazine...but not for my, I will be published in a section none of my family or freinds will be able to believe.

I will be published for something I cook.

More specifically, one of my "lazy day" recipes, a throw-it-together pasta bake that me and my kids make.

I once was an avid reader. Now, my life is so busy and complicated, that all I have time for is an ocassional magazine.

I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on, which included whatever magazines were laying around the house. My mother routinely purchased "Reader's Digest," "Family Circle," and "Woman's Day," so naturally, those are among my favorites. In college I became a fan of a magazine called "First for Women" and most recently, a new magazine called "All You."

Now that everyone has a website (even R.D.!) , naturally I decided to check them out, where I learned about what's known as a "reader's panel." Each magazine wants to learn about it's readers, so they invite them to join the reader's panel, where they periodically answer surveys, share opinions and ocassionally get free samples (score!) They typically keep in contact by email.

I read the emails, but rarely feel I have something to contribute....until an email last week from "All You" had a question for which I actually had an answer!

What's your favorite "emergency" no-shop weeknight dinner -- the one you make with ingredients from your pantry/freezer?

So I clicked the corresponding link and wrote about our pasta bake, made from staples I keep in my pantry...pasta, spaghetti sauce from a jar, shredded cheese and whatever meat I may have on hand. It's quick and easy, I don't have to think about it, and my family loves it. We eat it at least once a week.

Two days later, I recieve an email that they loved the recipe and are considering it for publication! They even asked for a headshot to publish with it!

Who'd have thunk it..?!