What Does It REALLY Take To Put A Baby To Sleep...And KEEP Them There?

I have memories that have stuck in my mind like oatmeal hardened to a pot about getting my kids to sleep when they were babies.  Some were easier than others, but David was by far the most difficult.  Many times, my life with him as a baby reminded me of that old "Lucy" episode, where every time she put the baby down, tiptoed back to her bed and gently laid down, the baby woke up screaming.  I think about this now, because having a granddaughter has made me realize that, although, getting a baby  to sleep is STILL very important (and at times difficult...), modern inventions have made it quite interesting, to say the least.

When Parker Ann spends the night with us, there is a bedtime "ritual" of sorts that must be followed if one intends on putting her to sleep...and KEEPING her asleep.  When my kids were little, just like other parents, we FOUGHT putting the kids to bed.  As babies, it was the pacifier.  If the baby dropped it out of his mouth...or in David's case, threw it across the room like a baseball once the lights were turned off...we found ourselves crawling around under the crib searching for it.  Justin and Sarah have eliminated this problem by loading the bed down with 5 PACIFIERS!  Yes, you heard me right (and I wonder why we never thought of that ourselves...); One starts out in her mouth and then one goes in each corner of the bed just in case she drops the one out of her mouth, she is within reaching distance of another one.  OH...and a couple of them are GLOW IN THE DARK pacifiers!  Needless to say, the pacifiers are definitely one of the necessities required when "getting baby to sleep and keeping her there".

The second item needed in order for Parker to sleep soundly is her "LOVEY".  If you don't think THIS item is important then just attempt to get her to sleep without it!  Her parents have forgotten it a couple of times when they left Parker with me for the day...the child is NOT going to sleep without it.  So, now when packing for her to spend the night, they pack not one, but TWO "LOVEYS" that are just alike.  She falls asleep with one in her hand and once again, the other one is placed within reaching distance in her crib with all of those pacifiers!

Finally, equally as important as the 4 pacifiers and the 2 "Loveys" is...Her very own i-pod!  We simply had those little musical mobiles that hung over the baby's crib that had to be rewound over and over during the night to keep putting the baby back to sleep.  Justin had eliminated that problem by programming an entire i-pod just for Parker.  I'm NOT kidding you!...When turned on, it says, "Parker's Lullabies" and it sits in a port with speakers that allows the music to be easily heard in the room...all night long!  You heard me right!  You don't even have to get up and go restart it; it just continually plays all night long.

These new parents have really got it going on and I wonder WHY IN THE WORLD we never thought of some of these things ourselves!  Well, once asleep, we STILL tiptoe around, turn the television volume down and threaten the dogs (and believe me...THEY understand not to wake that baby up either!) about barking.  We leave her bedroom door open and everyone in the house does the same; we need to be able to hear her on the off chance that all of that "stuff" somehow doesn't KEEP her asleep.  And just as memory serves me...I am STILL so startled out of my sleep when that happens, I don't know my name or where I even am.  Someone else ends up standing over my bed, tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "Mom...Parker is awake."  OH MY GOSH!  Very disoriented, I pry my eyes open and see that it is only 3 a.m.!  "Robby...The baby is awake and it is only 3 a.m....What am I supposed to do with her?!"  Of course, he only lays there and continues to snore as though he doesn't even hear what is going on at this unmerciful hour.  And so I do exactly what I did many years ago when my children were young...and I must say that it STILL works.  I change her diaper, put that pacifier back in her mouth, "Lovey" in hand and...lay her down right between Robby and me!  She immediately quits crying (as though an on-off switch has been pressed...), snuggles down next to me and falls fast asleep.  Oh well...So much for all of the "new-fangled" gadgetry; sometimes the old tried and true ways work just as well!


A "REAL" Tree For Christmas

I'm not sure exactly what happened.  It was a couple of days prior to Thanksgiving and I was out and about in town, getting a few last minute things before the "crazy" of Black Friday arrived.  I had already been listening to my Christmas CD's for several weeks and I must admit that those tunes tend to affect my spirits in a most positive manner.  Whatever the case, I glanced over and saw it...was suddenly mesmerized by it...and the thought took hold at that very moment; I HAD to have a "REAL" Christmas tree this year.

It has been MANY years since I have purchased a "real" Christmas tree for my home.  When Robby and I were first married, it was a tradition to do so, including the Charlie Brown Christmas tree that we had one year due to the fact that money was tight and we were forced to wait until the last minute to buy one.  I believe, at some point we morphed into the "artificial tree mode" when I announced that I thought "real" trees were causing me to have difficulties with my allergies.  Now, absolutely nothing has changed with my allergies, but for some reason when I passed those beautiful live trees this year, I saw glistening, magical stars.  Whipping my car around almost in the middle of the road to go check them out, Caitlin thought I had lost mind..."What are you doing?", she asked.  Unlike my boys (who never question why I do anything...), I find that the girl not only questions why I'm doing it but also tries to reason with me not to do some things.  Well, that was not going to happen this time...that tree had some sort of magical powers and I found myself completely under its spell!

As I walked through the tented area where the trees were set up, I breathed in the woodsy smell.  Finding a gentleman who worked there, I inquired about the price of a 9 foot tree.  OK, so I had determined if the tree cost too much, I probably wouldn't get it.  But HEY!  It was a "tree"...how much could one reasonably ask for a "tree"?  Upon finding out how much the tree cost, I deemed it "not too much" and also found out that I could have it delivered to my house for FREE!  The next step was to call Robby and ask him what he thought about the idea of getting a "real" tree this year.  Well, as I said, the guys in this family pretty much never tell me my ideas aren't good and he was not opposed to the idea if that was what I wanted (ahhh...words I love to hear), however, Caitlin attempted to thwart my little magical tree experience by reminding him that, "We will all be sick, Dad". I caught him frowning at her and pointing his finger as he said, "If she wants a 'real' tree, she can have a 'real' tree."  Satisfied that was settled, I smiled and she finally resigned herself to the fact that I was going to get the tree and she had been officially over ruled.

After the twenty-two people had left from my house after a filling Thanksgiving lunch and all the dishes were cleaned and put away, I decided to call the Christmas tree store and see if they were open.  Finding out that they were, I asked Caitlin and Sarah if they would like to ride with me down there to pick out "my" tree, pay for it and set up a delivery time.  We arrived, hopped out of the car and found out what color the 9 foot trees were tagged with and immediately headed over in that direction.  There was a lady there obviously having a difficult time deciding which tree she wanted for her own.  Seeing us making our way to the same area she was in, she cast a quick glance my way and pointed out the one she wanted.  HEY!  There were plenty of trees to go around; I wasn't going to choose "hers".  It didn't take me long to find the most beautiful, perfect "real" tree I had even seen.  I paid for it, gave the man my address and watched as he placed my name on a tag, hung it from one of the branches and pulled it to the back.  The next day I would have my "real" tree...I was as excited as a kid in a candy shop!

I never do the "Black Friday" thing the day after Thanksgiving, instead I work on decorating my house for Christmas.  So awaking Friday morning, I poured myself a cup of coffee and began to drag only a portion of my decorations out of the attic. I knew my tree would not be arriving until after noon, so I decided to decorate my tables, mantles and front door.  Caitlin got busy making my new wreaths and I busied myself...and very impatiently waited for my tree.

Lunch time came and went and I watched the clock...still no tree yet.  The guys turned on the LSU football game and we watched as the Tigers ate pork as their post Thanksgiving snack.  All of a sudden the dogs began to bark and the doorbell rang...MY TREE HAD ARRIVED!  Two men came in and set it up as I gazed at it in awe.  It was absolutely beautiful!  I hadn't had a "real" tree in years and now I was anxious to get the lights on it and all of my ornaments that would tell the tales of not only Christmases past, but our lives as well.  Did I mention that I LOVE Christmas?!


It Was NOT My Intention To Visit Wal-Mart The Day Before Thanksgiving...

It is never my intention to visit Wal-Mart.  I realize that the entire country shops there, but that place just make me go completely into "anxiety mode".  Therefore, I tend to try to avoid entering the establishment at all costs.  THAT is why finding myself right in the middle of Wal-Mart during the pre-Thanksgiving chaos made me scratch my head and wonder if I was perhaps in the midst of a terrible dream.

It was my intention to head to the grocery store Wednesday afternoon to pick up the few items I needed for our Thanksgiving meal.  Voicing this to Robby, he told me not to worry about doing that, he would go for me and spare me the dreaded trip altogether.  Having no reason not to believe him, I continued on with my day.  Arriving home around 5:00, we decided to go out to dinner with Caitlin and Ryan who were already in for the holiday.  It was only after our tummies were full that Robby announced he had not gotten around to getting those items I needed from the grocery store yet.  He said since Wal-Mart was on our way home, he could just kill two birds with one stone.  The plan was for Caitlin and me to drop Ryan and him off to get the groceries, while we drove over to the gas pumps and filled up his tank.  WHEW!  That sounded like a plan to me; I wouldn't have to go inside the store after all.

After dropping them off to get the groceries, we drove over to the gas pumps, where I sat inside the warm car while Caitlin got out to put the gas in.  KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK on my window..."What?", I asked.  Caitlin explained that she couldn't get the gas tank knob on the car untwisted.  I got out and had no luck with it myself.  I was just telling her to get back in so we could go get her dad when this nice gentleman saw us struggling with it and came and got it opened for us.  As soon as we were finished, Caitlin got back into the car to drive over to wait for the guys.  She hit the button to start the car up and...NOTHING.  We looked at each other and immediately knew what had happened; Robby had forgotten to give us his "smart key"...we couldn't go anywhere (ugh...).

We only sat there a minute before a car pulled in behind us and I had to explain, using hand signals, that we couldn't get our car started.  I volunteered to walk all the way back to the store to get the key...HEY!  I wasn't sure which was scarier; being stuck in front of the gas pump with angry people lining up behind me or having to actually go into the store on the eve of a holiday.  After making it back to the store, I began my search for the guys.  They were naturally in the very back of the store and as I turned the corner and our eyes met, they knew exactly what had happened.  Ryan took the key and went back to get Caitlin while I got the joy of staying with Robby to check the groceries out.

Just as we got in line to check out, Robby realized that he had forgotten to look for something.  He threw me his wallet and told me to stay in line.  I was second in line so I just stood there and read the covers of all the magazine and tabloids.  It was taking a while, but I was determined not to get agitated...it WAS the holiday season, after all.  The trouble, however, came when the checker at the register next to mine apparently voided too many items and needed the assistance of MY checker.  So...when the lady in front of me loaded up her groceries to leave...so did my checker!  Quickly recalling why I tend to avoid the store, I watched as the two cashiers discussed the discrepancies on the receipt in question.  About that time, I saw my husband run across the front of the store, headed for the front door..."Ummm...Robby, STOP!"  Hearing his name, he spun around to see me still standing in line with my groceries on the counter and no one behind it checking me out.  He asked what was going on and just as I was about to explain, luckily someone came up and began checking me out.  

As we loaded our groceries up and started rolling our buggy out of the store, the two checkers were still discussing the voided ticket; she was telling the customer that they were going to have to take all of his groceries out of the bags and start over.  People were lined up behind him and I could see their shoulders physically begin to sag and hear the sighs escape their lips.  I was getting out of there pretty much unscathed and I must admit that I was surprised and "thankful" ('tis the season...)  HOWEVER... I hope NOT to find myself in this situation again any time soon; I'm NOT tempting fate!

It Wouldn't Be An "EVENT" Without Being So "EVENTFUL" For My BIG, FAT FAMILY

I knew that it was going to be a busy weekend, what with "Meeting the Parents" AND hosting an engagement party for Caitlin and Kevin, but REALLY...can't we EVER have an "Event" that is not so "EVENTFUL"?!

"Meeting the Parents" went quite well, although there were SOME who had their doubts that it would.  When Caitlin and Kevin rolled in Friday morning, I could tell that he seemed a bit stressed.  I assured him that there would not be 100 family members standing around in the front yard where we would be roasting a goat for dinner when his parents arrived.  He gave me a shaky smile as though he wasn't sure if I was telling the truth.  I had also already been quizzed by my husband about my attire for the evening...ummm, yea; can you believe THAT?! (hmph!)  I asked him WHAT exactly did he think I was planning to wear...a Homecoming dress?!  GOSH, I'm no rookie.  We were simply serving the parents gumbo at our house for dinner; I was wearing blue jeans, of course.  My mother, who is only always concerned with my cleavage, agreed that Robby should have been concerned with my attire for the evening since I might possibly show too much cleavage...OH MY GOSH!  What is it with these people...I'm only about to be a half a century old; I think I'm capable of dressing myself!  Well, regardless of all the hoop-la over the "Meeting of the Parents" AND my attire, the evening went very well and Kevin's parents are really nice folks.  After the evening was done, it was time to move on to the activities planned for the next day.  And THAT'S when the REAL fun began!
Robby making the gumbo.

Ready to "Meet the Parents" for dinner.

Notice the cute gumbo bowl and alligator spoon!

When I have an event planned, there are a couple of things that I know for sure:  1.  I am NOT going to get off course with the things I have on my list for the day AND 2.  SOMETHING is definitely going to go wrong.  Well, I got up early and knowing these two things, decided to at least get the day off to a right start since I did not know where it would end up later.  I ate my breakfast and headed out for an hour run.  Returning, both exhilarated and exhausted, I now felt I was equipped to handle whatever the day could potentially throw at me.  First on the agenda:  Taking the photographs for Caitlin and Kevin's "Save the Date" cards.

I instructed Caitlin to get ready for their photograph session with me while I got a shower.  Everything was going pretty well UNTIL...Caitlin decided to try on her new dress that she was planning to wear to the party that evening.  When she walked into the room, she announced in a panic that the dress was too big on her.  She had tried it on the previous weekend and it had fit.  Hmmm...I had not actually seen it on her and seriously doubted THAT, however, making alterations to a dress on the day of the event was NOT on my list.  I matter of factly told her that she would just have to choose another one to wear for the evening, when Robby suddenly reared his head and said, "Bring me my a piece of chalk and a seam ripper."  WHAT?!  He informed me that HE was going to "fix" her dress for her.  I told him that I didn't think that was a very good idea, considering the fact that he was planning to take the zipper out, move it over and put it back in...AND he had NEVER done such a thing before in his life!  With confidence, he assured us that he could do it.  Once again, I told Caitlin to have another selection picked out for the evening.
Robby trying to decided HOW to go about taking the dress apart.

While Robby continued to dissemble Caitlin's dress, I once again announced that I was off to get my shower so that I could stay on my self-imposed schedule and get those pictures taken.  After getting out of the shower, however, I became quite side-tracked by attempting to get MY clothes for the party laid out.  The immediate problem seemed to be that I couldn't find the black velvet pants I had planned to wear.  I searched the closet in my room and then headed upstairs to the closet there.  All the while,  mumbling about not being able to find my pants.  Ryan (the dental student...) is walking around shirtless, flossing his teeth and becoming quite amused that his dad is tearing his sister's dress apart and his mother is frantically searching for her missing pair of pants.  Finally, I just give up on the pants and grab a black skirt from my closet, hoping it still fits since it's been about six years since I've worn it.  Trying it on, I was happy to report that it still fit!  WHEW!...Now, to just get out the new sequined top that I purchased the week before, dry my hair and I'm outta there to take the pictures.  I run back to my closet and...CRAP!  Now I can't find the stinkin' top!  I come out of my bedroom again to report that I'm about to throw every last piece of clothes out of my closet because I'm not going ANYWHERE until I find that top.  Ryan finds that even MORE amusing...while Robby continues to rip the dress apart and now Caitlin asks, (while sitting at the bar filling out the family tree in her bridal sign in book...) "Hey, are you ready to go?"  I STOP, turn to her and answer her question with a question of my own.  Pointing out that I am still wearing my red robe with the leopard print and my wet hair tied up in a towel turban-style..."Do I LOOK like I am ready to leave?!"  (Ugh!!!)  Ryan is rolling with laughter as he comments that he likes my new hair style.  Luckily, I find my top, finish getting ready and leave for the photo session. 
Robby DEEPER into the "Dress Project".

Caitlin filling out her "Family Tree".

Ryan...The ONLY one relaxing and enjoying the chaos!

Before we even get started taking the pictures, I let Caitlin know that I am only willing to devote one hour of my time to this project since I intend to eat lunch before I begin decorating for the party.  She tells me this should be no problem because at some point during the morning she has already had Kevin painting the props they will use for the photographs AND out scouting for a place to actually take the pictures.  OK, so we jump in the car and they tell me to head down the road toward the National Forest located near our home.  We turn off on a side road, grab the props and begin to walk down a dirt path.  "This won't be too bad," I think.  That is UNTIL...they decided we should get off of the path to do some of the shots.  Hurrying out of the house, I merely slipped on my flip-flops and while I didn't mind getting a little dirt on my feet, I DID mind getting poison ivy or snake bit.  I mentioned this to them and they seemed to think I was being a little silly.  I pointed out that there were PLENTY of poisonous snakes out there and I was beginning to itch as we spoke.  We got the pictures taken within the one hour time slot that I had allotted and we then all took off to the club to eat lunch before the decorating began.
YEA, the woods were pretty...Pretty scary for me!

I threw down a scoop of tuna salad with some crackers before the others arrived to help me decorate the tables and then we all got to work. While directing people what to do and shaking my booty to the warming up of the band, I noticed Kevin following me around...OH MY GOSH!  He was filming me on his phone!  I said, "WHAT THE HECK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!  You're supposed to be kissing up to me; I'm about to be your "Mudder-in Law" (That's Cajun for mother-in-law..)!  He laughed while I gave him the evil eye and threatened him.  At last we were finished and could head home to rest for a while before dressing for the party.

The party went off well, with lots of family and friend in attendance to offer congratulations to the newly engaged couple.  Robby impressed us all by completing the alterations on Caitlin's dress and she wore it to the party!  The food was great, the band wonderful and by 11:00, we were cleaning up to head home.  I could check another "wedding task" off of my list; the kids were "officially" engaged now.  The next day, I hoped to catch up on my rest because the following week, Caitlin would be off for Thanksgiving break.  We had an entire list of wedding stuff to get out of the way.  OH...and let's not forget the 20 plus people I would be having over for Thanksgiving.  Well, I suppose as my mama always says, "That's just the way the mop flops"...It's just another DAY IN THE LIFE OF A MOM!
8 of Caitlin's 9 Bridesmaids

Caitlin in her "fixed" dress and Me in my found top.

Caitlin and Kevin...Now "Officially" Engaged!


Even "Credit Card Woman" Won't Spend $200 On A Cup and Saucer!

My husband has a very dry sense of humor.  Once, he referred to me as "Credit Card Woman"; The Fastest Card In The South.  It's a good thing I take teasing with a grain of salt!  However, those words came back to visit me this past weekend as Caitlin and I embarked on yet ANOTHER wedding task.

I was only heading to town for a few minutes, just long enough to pick up a birthday present for Robby.  Parker Ann had spent two days and a night with us and I looked pretty rough.  But when Caitlin called to request that I stop by a local gift shop to "help" her with a wedding task...well, I just couldn't resist!

Previously, Caitlin had looked around a bit for her dishes, but she hoped to get all of that out of the way this particular afternoon.  As we walked into the shop and entered the little room where brides select their china, every day wear, crystal and flatware, I suddenly became caught up in the "new bride frenzy".  I realize that it is easy for me to inflict my ideas upon her, so I determined ahead of time that I would just look at what SHE had in mind and only comment when asked...OH, and perhaps register for a new set myself (can't the mother of the bride do that?!)!

While we waited for the salesgirl to assist us and write our selections down, we began to pull dishes from the shelves and set up an entire place setting on our own.  Keeping to my resolve of "letting her pick it herself" didn't last for very long since Caitlin continued to ask, "Do you like this...or What do think about that?"  Finally, I made a couple of suggestions to go along with what she had chosen and we were quite pleased with our choices so far when the sales associate eventually joined us.  She noticed that we were looking for a cup and saucer to go with the setting and THAT is when I decided that a gold set would top everything off perfectly.  Caitlin noted that she had seen one earlier and asked where it could be found.  The girl walked over and quickly found it in the corner, behind a plate.  IT WAS PERFECT!  We were admiring how beautiful it looked perched atop the stack of china when Caitlin suddenly asked, "How much is that cup and saucer any way?" (Ahhh...my practical child).  Sheepishly, the associated looked at us and relied, "$200."  YIKES!  Caitlin physically jumped away from that cup and saucer as though it was on fire and in danger of burning her.  She also suddenly cut her eyes in my direction and said, "NO WAY!...Get that cup off of there!"  I have to admit that I was also in a bit of shock and agreed that it was WAY too much for ANYBODY to spend on a drinking vessel...although it WAS so very pretty (sigh...).  Caitlin then accusingly asked me, "Why do you do that, MOM?!"  Hmmm...I replied with a question myself, "Why do you ask me to help?  You know I pick things out first and look at the price last." Agreeing that our taste far outweighed our pocketbooks, we longingly looked at that gold cup and saucer as we set it back in its corner (maybe it was in the corner for a reason...).   The associate snickered, nodded her head and we immediately began the search for a replacement set.  Finding one, we set it atop her place setting and stood back and smiled at our selections. 

Later that evening I commented to my husband that day had been one of the most fun "wedding task" days I had experienced so far.  Appearing a bit confused since he could not even imagine looking for china to be considered "fun", I explained further; "I think what made it so enjoyable was the fact that I didn't have to spend any money on this particular task!"  Well, not yet, I thought...I was pretty sure that I would be filling in any bits and pieces she did not get for wedding gifts.  However, one thing was for sure...This "Credit Card Woman" would NOT be burning up HER card buying any $200 cup and saucer sets; Even SHE has her limits!


The REAL TRUTH About "Meeting The Parents"...

There have been movies about about it;  "Father of the Bride", "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and most recently (and probably the most popular...), "Meet the Parents".  We laugh when viewing these movies and think of them as merely entertainment.  I am here to tell you that there is a lot of truth to the old saying, "Art Imitates Life" when referring to MEETING THE PARENTS.

Next weekend, Robby and I will meet Kevin's parents for the first time.  We are throwing the kids an engagement party Saturday evening and his parents will be arriving here in Louisiana from Kentucky, Friday.  That evening, we will have them over for dinner while we all get acquainted with the future in-laws of our respective children.  Since this is their first time to do this, I am sure his parents are a little more apprehensive about the meeting than we are; this is our third time to "Meet The Parents".

Although Kevin's parents may be a little more nervous about our upcoming meeting than us, I totally understand how they are feeling.  Justin was our first to get married.  Sarah was from Arkansas and naturally we had never met her parents.  So, when Justin announced that he and Sarah were engaged, I immediately got on the Internet to search the proper etiquette for the groom's responsibilities concerning the engagement and wedding.  I noticed that it stated the groom's parents should call, introduce themselves and then set up a meeting for the parents' and newly engaged couple.  The next day found me on the telephone doing just that.  I introduced myself to Sarah's mother, set up a time for us to drive to Arkansas to meet them and checked that off of my list.  THAT was the easy part.

We drove to Arkansas the day before we were to "meet the parents", checked into our hotel...and THEN I began to get nervous.  This thing was about to happen and really...I was feeling a bit out of my comfort zone.  As we browsed around the quaint little town that day, we kept getting phone calls from our other three children..."Have you 'met the parents' yet?...Have you 'met the parents' yet?...Have you 'met the parents yet?"  "OH MY GOSH!!!  NO; We are not meeting them until dinner time."  Ryan was specifically enjoying this upcoming meeting.  He kept referencing a movie that had recently come out at theatres, "Along Came Polly", as he asked his dad if they were going to take us out for ethnic food so there would be the possibility of going back to their house,  stopping their toilet up and then overflowing it.  Sighing, I told him that we were most likely just going to a steak house or something; not to worry about that.  Later that day, we got the call from the kids:  "My parents want to take y'all to our favorite Mexican restaurant", Sarah said.  Robby ordered a salad for dinner.

After dinner, we were invited back to our future daughter-in-law's home to visit for a while before heading back to our hotel.  Upon arriving, Sarah's mother poured each of us a glass of champagne to toast the upcoming marriage of our children.  While Sarah's father and I sipped on our glass, I noticed that Robby and her mother had downed their first glass and started on a second one.    Hmmm...I wondered if that had some sort of hidden meaning.  We sat down to visit for a few minutes and were suddenly introduced to the other two members of their family; their King Cavalier Dogs.  Now, I will let a dog jump up in my lap ANY day of the week; it just doesn't bother me.  Robby, on the other hand, is a little more reserved about such things.  And THAT is precisely why what happened next, tickled my funny bone beyond belief!  Those two playful pups took right to HIM.  And by that, I mean they climbed right up his chest and were staring him directly in the eye.  I smiled as I watched him gently stroke their backs, all the while on the inside rolling around and guffawing!  THIS was GREAT stuff!

We said our good-byes, got into our car and simply stared at one another for a moment.  I immediately began to laugh as Robby picked the dog hair off of his black sweater.  We had survived "meeting the parents"...WHEW!  Well, the next "meeting of the parents" for my second son's wedding came a little easier.  And now...it is my desire to put this new set of parents at ease during our "meeting".  I want to offer them some down home, southern hospitality complete with a relaxed dinner of perhaps gumbo and French bread.  I hope that they will be instantly put at ease around us, although our initial introductions I'm sure will be a bit awkward; that is just normal.  But, as they said in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"..."Some of us are apples, some are oranges, but in the end...We are all just fruits!"

The "PLAN" For Getting Back Down to My "Fighting Weight"

Once I found out that I had gained those 10 pounds, I decided that I MUST take some sort of action...and the quicker the better.  I formulated the "Plan" in my mind completely, before I ever implemented it.  It is a plan that I believe EVERYONE can follow to jump-start their weight loss routine.

Let me begin by saying that "stick ability" is VITAL.  You must mentally MAKE yourself decide to do something and STICK WITH IT.  I realize that some of you will say that this "plan" sounds like the "same old diet and exercise routine".  Well, there is just no getting around it...IT IS!  Remember, I mentioned that all of my blood tests indicated past good diet and physical activity.  My "good cholesterol" was so high that my doctor told me I deserved a metal for it.  He explained that it was a product of genetics along with good diet and health practices.  This proved to me that everything I had been doing was actually working; the inside of my body was very healthy.  I had just run into a few health issues that had knocked me off of my feet (and path...) for a while.  So, I formed my "plan" and then mentally prepared myself for getting back into shape.

I was once told that our bodies had "muscle memory".  Apparently, if one has worked out and taken good care of their bodies, their muscles will remember it more quickly when attempting to get back into shape.  Well, I DO believe this to be the case, but please do NOT be confused...the first few days for me were absolutely MURDER on my body!  I'm not sure there was one place you could put your finger on that did not hurt.  I huffed and I puffed and wondered if I would even make it.  The GOOD NEWS is...I DID!  And I would like to share with you what I did to jump-start" my body into getting back to where it had once been.

1.  Make a "Plan" and STICK TO IT.

     Most people are good at the "making the plan" part, but sticking to it is another thing altogether.  To help me "stick to" my plan, I got a large calendar and split each day into 2 parts:  AM and PM.  I recorded my morning and evening weight EVERY day.  This is part of that "mental" thing I was talking about.  This motivated me to "stay on the path".  I worked harder each day if I knew I would be accountable.  I wrote the number that the scale reflected each day, reaffirmed my goals and continued on.

2.  Exercise is VITAL to losing weight.

     I don't care what all of those commercials say...Losing weight is all about "calories in and calories out".  The only way that one is going to move calories "out" of their body, is to GET ACTIVE!  Since I had not physically felt well in quite a while, I realized that "getting active" was going to potentially kick my butt.  Well, I supposed if I had to take a butt kicking, there was no time like the present to do so.  The only thing that I have been doing so far is walking.  You heard me right!  No running, no weights, no crunches...just walking.  OH...but I do walk (briskly; breaking a sweat...) for 1 HOUR EVERY day.  I put my tennis shoes on and take my i-pod and hit the neighborhood EVERY day.  I keep Parker Ann two day a week, so I invested in my own stroller and she loves to go for a ride, while I get my cardio.  Do NOT cheat on this part.  Your are getting your body healthy on both the inside AND the outside. 

3.  Diet is something EVERYONE can control is they want to lose weight.

     It is my belief that people in our country suffer some of the worst diet habits.  Notice I used the word "habits".  Eating correctly is a habit one must form.  I don't like to think of it as "being on a diet", but just learning what to eat and how much to eat of it.  Obesity abounds, not only with adults, but children as well.  Do you know how many people in this country suffer from Type 2 Diabetes?  Eating properly begins early and it begins in the home.  I am very fortunate that I was raised on home grown garden vegetables and have never really been a "junk food junkie".  Oh, don't get me wrong, I do like the occasional snack, but I'm just not one of those people who can sit around and eat a whole bag of chips or half gallon of ice cream.  I, however, know that there are many people out there that struggle with that problem and that is precisely why I suggest NOT BUYING THOSE FOODS.  If your already have all of that junk food in you pantry...THROW IT AWAY!  If one does not have these unhealthy foods available, they will not eat them.  Like I said, the junk food is not really my problem, so what I focused on eliminating from my diet was pastas and breads.  This is sort of what a day of my diet looks like:

BREAKFAST:  Fat Free vanilla yogurt with a few blackberries
                           1 cup of coffee with artificial sweetener and fat free creamer (don't over do the
*NOTE:  Do NOT skip ANY meals.  People who skip breakfast are more likely to "cheat" during the
                day.  Food is fuel that helps one's body run properly.  You MUST eat to properly lose

Some people may need to keep a "Food Diary" in order to physically see what they are eating in a day.  A good rule of thumb is what I call the "Rule of Halves".  Only eat HALF of what you would normally put on your plate.  Eat a small salad instead of a large one, half a sandwich, only one chicken breast.  People in this country have been saturated so much with super sizing and large portions, it is no wonder we are becoming more obese and in turn having more health issues daily.

LUNCH:  I will eat either a garden salad with crackers or a bowl of soup, perhaps a half sandwich on
                 whole wheat bread.  Remember, I don't eat meat (only fish), so you could eat tuna fish or
                 chicken with your salad.  If you do a combination meal for lunch, go for a half sandwich
                 and cup of soup.

AFTERNOON SNACK:  I chose to eat a Kashi granola bar for my afternoon snack most times, but
                                          you could eat a piece of fruit and a small slice of cheese, a few nuts.
                                          Whatever you choose, just be sure to reach for something HEALTHY and
                                           FILLING to get you through until dinner time.

DINNER:  For me, dinner is my biggest meal of the day, however, it does not include fried foods or
                  a lot of carbohydrates.  Generally, I will eat a baked or broiled piece of fish, some sort of
                  green, leafy vegetable and a yellow vegetable or simply a meal of just vegetables for me
                  since I do not eat other meats.  If you do eat meats, make sure they are lean cuts and do
                  NOT batter or fry them.

DESSERT OR EVENING SNACK:  I'm not usually hungry enough for a dessert or snack in the
                                                            evening, but my husband is.  He tends to make fruit shakes or
                                                             smoothies for himself.  He just puts a fresh fruit, milk and
                                                             artificial sweetener in the blender to make a delicious, filling
                                                             treat!  You could also have a handful of granola or some nuts
                                                             for a light snack also.

DRINK WATER:  It has been YEARS since I gave up drinking soda of any kind.  I don't believe
                               that they (regular or diet) are a healthy choice of drink.  I drink water and LOTS
                               of it!  If regular water gets boring for you, get some flavored water, but I do NOT
                               recommend sparkling water; it is carbonated.

WU YI TEA:  I am a hot tea drinker; just always have been.  If you think Green Tea is good for you
                       and has great health benefits, you should try Wu Yi Tea.  The only place, however, I
                       have been able to find it, is on the Internet.  Wu Yi Tea is a very mild tasting tea and
                       here are some of the benefits is touts: 

                       Helps burn fat
                       Good for your skin
                       Good for your immune system
                       Boosts energy and well-being

                       I am very sensitive to caffeine and Wu Yi Tea does not have as much caffeine as
                       Green Tea.  It does not make be jittery or alter my sleep.  I drink a cup mid-morning
                       and another mid-afternoon.

CHEATING:  I realize that if one is just beginning healthy eating habits, it may be very difficult to
                       go "cold turkey" with all of your favorite foods.  What I suggest is, if you are going
                       to "cheat", just use the "Rule of Halves" again.  If you simply cannot go without a
                       piece of candy or small bag of chips, take half of it and throw the other half in the
                       garbage can.  "THROW IT AWAY?", you say.  Yes, if you keep it, you are more
                       likely to come back later and finish it off.  Oh...and don't "cheat" every day; only
                       maybe once or twice a week.  You will find that as your eating habits evolve into
                       more healthy ones and you begin to see the numbers on the scale get smaller, you
                       will find yourself reaching for healthier snacks.

I hope that some of these "tips" will help YOU in YOUR quest to get into shape.  Believe me...It is so worth it to get back into a routine.  The soreness leaves fairly quickly if you stay with it.  Your breathing and stamina get better daily.  And most importantly, you can physically SEE that your health is improving.  You've only got one body...NOW is the time to TAKE CARE OF IT!


Getting Back Down To My "Fighting Weight"...

Well, the "fight" has officially begun.  The fight to get back down to my "fighting weight", that is.  It wasn't just about Caitlin's upcoming wedding, however, I must admit that I did not want people commenting on how wide my behind had become while walking down the aisle.  It was more about getting back on track after a rough summer's end.

After finding out that I had contracted that darn ringworm, I had to be put on the most awful medicine ever.  It was a VERY expensive pill which not only required a blood test every other week to make sure my liver was not getting damaged, but the side effects were not very pleasant either.  I am that person who always reads the information the pharmacy puts in your bag concerning possible side effects of the medication.  Finding out that this particular medication frequently caused tiredness, dizziness and stomach upset, not to mention the possibility of liver damage made me pretty apprehensive about taking it at all.  And if it had been any other condition other than the ringworm in my head, I most likely would not have taken it.  But HEY!...What's a girl to do?  I had a wedding coming up and was already missing a plug of hair...I didn't want to be completely bald by the time my daughter walked down the aisle.  UGH...Depression began to set in.  While I was on this medication for 6 WEEKS, I progressively felt worse and worse; just not up to my old self.  The day I completed the treatment, I was elated that it was over.  My hair had not yet begun to grow back yet, but I was off of the medication, my ringworm was gone and I would hopefully begin to feel better soon.  THAT'S when it HIT!

About the time I finished my ringworm treatment, I began having some issues with my asthma (crap...just what I needed).  Deciding to pick myself up off of the couch, I made an appointment with my asthma specialist.  I prepared myself for the visit because although he is a friend of ours, I knew that I had been what medical professionals call, "non-compliant"(IMAGINE THAT...).  Well, I took the approach of just coming clean from the beginning; admitting one has a problem is the first step to recovery, right?  As he walked into the room, his face had a "Shame on You" look.  I immediately said, "I know...I know!  I got off my inhaler and I know I shouldn't have and I'm sorry..."  He opened my file and asked if I knew how long it had been since he had actually "seen" me in his office.  Hmmm...I wondered if this was some sort of trick question.  Actually it was a rhetorical one because he answered it for me.  He informed me that it had been 3 YEARS!  YIKES!  Could I just crawl under the examination table now?!  He referred to me as a "Drive-By Patient".  If I felt a little under the weather, I would just call the office and ask what I could take, promise to come in later (to get what I wanted...), start feeling better and then...you've got it, never come into the office.  I apologized, got fixed up with new inhalers and headed home.  This would be my "New Beginning"; I would start feeling better and THEN I would embark on getting back into shape. 

It took a little longer than I had planned to actually put my plan into action; about 3 EXTRA WEEKS, to be exact!  You see, I refused to take a steroid (those pills just make me plain mean...I don't even like myself when I'm taking them...) for my asthma and it took that long for the inhalers to begin working again.  OH...And did I fail to mention that all this time I had just been lazing around?  YEAH...REAL smart, huh?!  About the time the inhalers kicked in is when I decided to go see that hormone specialist about the Biodentical Hormones.  He did 3 PAGES worth of blood work on me and apparently my healthy lifestyle (up unto this point, that is...), had served me well.  The only problem he could see was that my thyroid was working very hard to be efficient.  That worried me and I told him so.  He told me not to be because it looked at though the cause of it was an iodine deficiency.  He instructed me to take 2 capsules of Kelp (a natural source of iodine) per day for the next 6 weeks (until my follow-up blood test). He also told me to begin taking Vitamin C, D and Fish Oil.  This doctor spent over 2 HOURS with me that day!  I can honestly say that NO doctor has EVER spent that kind of time talking to me about my health.  He also decided that I should be on 2 biodentical hormone creams daily (testosterone and progesterone; compounded specifically for ME...) for those deficiencies.  The only part of the visit that I did not enjoy was being weighed in.  It seems that in my "Couch Potato" state, I had put on 10 POUNDS since my last yearly exam which was only 8 months earlier!  Can I just say, "CRAP"?!  I was SO mad at myself!  So, sitting before that doctor, when asked what I would "like" my weight to be, I told him 20 POUNDS lighter!  He peered at me over the top of his glasses as he calmly asked, "Why?"  I merely stated, "Well, if we're 'wishing', I think we should just GO FOR IT!"  He nodded and made a note in my chart.  I left his office that day, feeling armed with all of the information and medication needed to put me back on the right path of getting back into shape; returning to my "fighting weight'!

When I returned home, I IMMEDIATELY began to formulate a "plan" and I am happy to say that after 2 1/2 weeks, I have lost 8 of the "original" 10 pounds I had gained!  Want to know HOW I did it?!  Tune in tomorrow for my "plan".  I promise you it is NOT difficult or extreme and I believe that ANYONE can follow it!

Girls' Weekend Flea Market Trip To CANTON, TEXAS

Since FOREVER, a group of us women have been traveling to Canton, Texas in the fall for a Girls' Weekend Flea Market Trip.  Over the years, some have drifted in and out, but there are some of us "old timers" who will always attempt to make our way there on the weekend before the first Monday in November.

The only time I can remember NOT going to Canton in November was when I was pregnant with Caitlin...that year we went in October and she was born on December 3.  I would not necessarily recommend that anyone go there that far along in their pregnancy, but Caitlin was my fourth child AND I just could not miss the excitement of not only the shopping but the fun to be had with my special group of Canton Girls. 

After Caitlin was born, I continued to travel to Canton each year with her in tow.  She cut her teeth on bartering for items at a very young age.  At first it was hair bows and Beanie Babies, then it graduated to any number of things she was determined not to pay full price for; it became a game of sorts for her.  This year was no different as she and I searched out unique, vintage items for her wedding and reception.

Since Canton is so large, having a buggy is a MUST!

I Know this does not seem practical, but if I had a trailer with me, I would LOVE to have this sleigh!

The crowds can be tough and the lines long, but it is worth it to get the PERFECT treasure!

THIS is why you NEED a buggy...We bought ALL the ribbon this vendor had!

Caitlin  trying to determine if $1 was too much to pay for this bottle.

There are many traditions among us Canton Girls; one being "Show and Tell".  This wonderful tradition, borrowed from kindergarten days has been one of the really FUN aspects of our Canton Girls' Weekend.  At the end of each shopping day, we all congregate in one room with all of our purchases for the day.  Then, one by one, we go around the room and show our items, tell about why we bought them and for whom they are intended.  This activity is followed each evening by what can only be described as a "Big Girls' Pajama Party".  There are ALL sorts of secrets shared on this weekend and let's just say, 'What Happens In Canton...Stays In Canton!"  On the last evening of our trip, we vote on the "Queen of Canton".  We have come a long way since the first year this particular tradition was started.  On that first year, one of my best friends came along and she decided that we needed a "Queen".  She had saved her corn dog stick from lunch and that became the queen's scepter.  A Burger King crown was placed on her head and a toilet paper sash was draped across her body.  Presently, we use a Christmas tree skirt for the queen's cape and a tiara for her head!


And Tellin'...

Last year's "Queen", holding on to her cape for as long as she can!

Canton, for our group, is more than just a shopping trip.  It is where Louisiana meets Texas, since half of the group is from both states.  We enjoy visiting and catching up with each other.  Within this group of women, we have evolved over the years.  We have gone from single to married, married to widowed, mothers to grandmothers.  When someone cannot make their way to Canton on occasion, they are missed by all.  As Caitlin and I shopped this year, several times I thought of my mother who is now 83 years old; she was one of the "Originals".  When she turned 80, she announced that it would be her last year to travel there.  I found myself thinking of her and missing her.  I would have to bring her out to my house one day this week and have "Show and Tell" with her. 

*****Want to learn more about the Canton, Texas Flea Market?  Go to:  www.firstmondaytradedayscantontexas *****


Some Interesting, Yet Confusing Observations Concerning PUBLIC RESTROOMS...

There are many thing that one could observe concerning PUBLIC RESTROOMS.  First, I am absolutely amazed at the apparent size of a woman's bladder compared to a man's.  Have you EVER seen a line outside a men's restroom?  I have often wondered about that line phenomenon (or lack there of for the men's room...), while myself waiting and crossing my legs in MY outrageously long one.  To take my mind off of tinkling in my pants, I find my mind wandering, pondering other observations I could also make about PUBLIC RESTROOMS, in general.

My husband has commented many times over the years that I must have a bladder the size of a pea or either I am on a mission to visit every public restroom in the country.  Well, I may indeed have a bladder the size of a pea...OR perhaps it is merely the after effects of being pregnant with four children and having them press down upon said bladder, thus making it not quite as efficient as once before.  Whatever the reason may be, I will agree that I have visited probably hundreds of public restrooms over the span of my life.  It is not that I enjoy visiting them; it is just that the prospect of NOT visiting them is even more undesirable.  So, I thought that I would share some of MY observations and employ all of you to chime in with your own...HERE GOES!

Bathrooms, in general, are sort of a pet peeve of mine.  I like my bathrooms at home to be clean.  For me, that means, no toilet rings, no dirt around the baseboards, no hair around the sink and a shower and tub free of mold and mildew.  I'm sorry, but a bathroom is a place where people go to get clean.  I just don't think one can get clean in a dirty place.  Taking all of this into consideration, I'm sure you can only IMAGINE how public restrooms tend to DRIVE ME CRAZY!  I never know what I might find waiting within the confines.  Since in my experience only a small percentage can be found "acceptable"...I gird myself for the inevitable before making my entrance.

One's first impression is made upon the entry of the restroom.  It comes in the form of...SMELL.  I KNOW that is gross, but I don't know any other way to put it.  When you open a public restroom door and the smell hits you in the face, you KNOW it is not going to be good.  Therefore, to prepare myself for the possibility that the smell will potentially be terrible, but the bathroom could actually be physically clean, I just take a deep breath before entering.  FYI, people...There are such things are room deodorizers that hang on the wall and intermittently spray a mist every few minutes...INVEST IN ONE!

The second and third observations go hand in hand and BOTH confuse me greatly.  It is the fact that many times, public restrooms have toilet paper all over the floor...AND unflushed toilets!  OK...so, I would just like to know WHO IN THE WORLD does this sort of thing in their own home?!  SURELY no one.  There is just nothing worse than walking into a stall where the toilet has not been flushed.  And my question would be..."Why not flush the toilet after you use it?"  I cannot even imagine any human doing this in their own home.  And who simply wipes and then throws the paper on the floor?  Again...WHY would a person do this in a public restroom?  I cannot bring myself to believe that anyone does that sort of thing in their home either.  Just observations...just valid questions.

I realize that this may appear to be an odd subject to broach, but I have griped and complained and commented on this phenomenon for years.  Come on, "ladies" (and the fact that WOMEN do this confuses me even further...) show a little respect.  Even for those of you who are not as "picky" about keeping a "clean" bathroom at home as I am...I'm SURE you don't throw toilet paper on the floor or fail to flush the toilet all day long (At least I HOPE not...).  OK...so, now I think I may know WHY the line to the women's restroom is so long.  Once a woman enters the stall, the cleaning begins.  She immediately takes notice of what needs to be done first.  If there is a line, she MUST enter the next available stall; even if it is not up to her standards.  Taking stock to see if the toilet has not been flushed, she MUST do THAT first. Removing the hand sanitizer from her purse, she squirts a generous portion out on the seat and begins cleaning it off with toilet paper.  FINALLY, she gets to sit down and actually USE the toilet.  All of this takes time, thus explaining the back-up of the women's restroom line. WHEW!  How exhausting to even have to navigate public restrooms these days.  BUT, as they say, "When ya gotta go...Ya gotta go!"  Unfortunately, SOME people "Go" like they're in the woods!

Sleep Over In My Daughter's College Dorm Room Apartment...

I was a non-traditional college student.  While most of my friends were off in another town attending college, I chose to first attend school in my home town.  That entire experience was quickly detoured as I chose marriage and childbirth for the next decade.  I then returned to complete my degree program at the age of 30, with four small children in tow.  And THAT is precisely why I have never had the opportunity to experience the "Dorm Room/Room Mate" phenomenon.  For one day this weekend, THAT was about to change!

Caitlin had decided to play hooky from class on Friday and begged me to spend the weekend in Canton, Texas with her, flea market shopping.  It didn't take much to twist my arm; we have been traveling there each November since...FOREVER.  However, with her in school, it has become a little more difficult to spend all 3 days there, so we usually head over on Saturday. 
At first, I toyed with the idea of just staying at our lake house in Natchitoches and driving to pick her up early Friday morning; that would cut an hour off of the 4 hour trip for me.  That's when she mentioned just coming over to Marshall, Texas, where she attends college and sleeping over at her on-campus apartment she shares with three other girls.  Hmmm...that was a thought AND we would only have an hour and a half to drive on Friday morning...OH, WHY NOT?!

I headed out for Marshall on Thursday afternoon and the closer I got, the more excitement I felt over being able to spend the entire weekend at the First Monday Canton, Texas Trade Days with my daughter; after all, this would our last time to do so with her being a single woman.  Upon driving up in her parking lot, she met me downstairs where we immediately headed out to Downtown Marshall, where we visited some of their really cute boutiques.  They were all decorated for Christmas already, in preparation for the upcoming Holiday City Wide Open House.  From there we walked around the corner where we enjoyed a nice dinner and then it was back to Caitlin's apartment for the remainder of the evening.

We carried my bags up to where I would be laying my head for the night and I must admit...her room was only slightly larger than my closet.  Although it was small, Caitlin had put her own special touch into decorating the space and it felt warm, homey and I felt sure that I could easily rest my head on her pillow for the night.

We awoke the next morning and I was personally very happy that I had chosen to sleep over at my daughter's college dorm room apartment.  Not only because it would save us a great deal of driving time, but because she was so happy to have me experience "her" way of daily living.  Afraid that she would not have my "necessary" morning dose of caffeine, however,  I packed a coffee pod with me.  Once again, she surprised me by being well-prepared for my visit by not only having coffee pods, but also holiday flavored creamer that she insisted I try!

We quickly loaded our bags into my vehicle and hit the road for our Girls' Weekend Road Trip.  The temperatures were crisp and cool as we popped in the first Christmas CD of the season and began singing along to the tunes.  LOOK OUT, CANTON,...HERE WE COME!


Spending A Day In The Country Wandering Down Memory Lane...

For me, I find that reminiscing is not only remembering; it includes all of one's senses that make the  experience complete.  This week, I had the joy of traveling down memory lane with a few of the most important women in my life.

Robby and I built our first home next to my mother.  Why?, you may ask.  We were young, starting a family and like most other young couples did not have very much money.  My father's family had a large portion of land, which they divided among each of their children.  My father ended up with 10 acres.  Giving us one of those acres, allowed us to build our first house, where our little family of three would grow to six.

We have built several more houses over the past 29 years, however, that first one still remains next door to my mother and closest to my heart.  There have been a couple more owners over the years who have taken up residence there and embraced my mother with a neighborly kindness that can only be found in the rural setting.  Up until recently I have only viewed the house from the exterior.  The present owner, who was making some improvements,  allowed me to come inside for a tour.  As I walked into the backyard, where the gigantic oak still stood tall casting a cooling shade over the back porch, I could see my boys playing in their sand box beneath it.  Stopping and taking in the entire experience for a moment, I began the process that I like to refer to as, "Traveling Down Memory Lane".

That day, as I walked through the house where I raised my children for 13 years, memories came flooding back.  Oh, the decor was different, but our family's spirit and imprint could still be found within the very atmosphere.  This was where my children had spent long, lazy days running around outside with dirt on their faces.  Often times they would wander next door to Mam-Maw's house to ask for a homemade biscuit, slathered with butter and Mayhaw jelly.  We adopted dogs, rabbits, chickens, pigs and even a horse at this house.  Our days and lives were full.  Countless memories were made in this house...good memories that could never be erased.  Not many people get the opportunity to revisit their old family home in the manner in which I was allowed.  This was a gift for which I was thankful. 

Monday was Halloween and Parker Ann was visiting me for the day.  I chose that day to visit my mother once again.  It was the perfect autumn day in the south.  There was a light breeze blowing, cool enough to raise the windows and open the screen doors.  My sister was off of work and also able to join us that day.  When Mother met us at the door, I attempted not to notice how quickly time really had marched on.  83 years old now, her once dark cap of hair had turned as white as snow.  The quick spring in her step was replaced by the assistance of a walking cane.  Her spirit, however, was the same.  Spunky, spry and sharp as a tack, she continued to enthusiastically welcome visitors.  I could tell by the smile on her face that I had made her day by bringing her great-granddaughter to visit.

To say that Parker looks like her father is sort of putting it under the table...she looks EXACTLY like him.  I suppose that is one reason that reminiscing for me that particular day was so intense.  As I looked at her little face, it was like looking back in time; being allowed to once again hold my own small child.  Although Mother must use that cane to amble around, she was still insistent that we all take to the outdoors to explore.  My sister and I found an old red wagon on her back porch and decided that Parker should take a ride in it.  We picked up acorns and pine cones and even took a little trip over to the fruit orchard.  Parker LOVED being outdoors and we all LOVED showering her with our attention.  I suddenly realized that 3 generations were standing before me, each in different phases of life.  As I breathed in, I felt it...that feeling one gets when the intake of breath causes every part of one's being to be transported back in time and soak up the present, simultaneously.  Time actually stood still as my senses were filled.  The smell of burning leaves, the feel of the crisp autumn breeze against my skin, birds chattering off in the distance somewhere.  I was taken back to those long, lazy days when my children were younger and times were simpler.  It was a good feeling.  It was a good day.  It was a good life.

Time marches on.  We long for it to slow down or even stop occasionally, but it does not acquiesce.  That is the way of life, the way it was intended to be.  Slow, lazy days are what life is all about.  Days when one takes the time to simply allow their senses to become filled up.  Days when we allow our minds to rest and reminisce...and travel down the seldom trod path of "Memory Lane".

Why I Feel Like A 5 Year Old When I Fly...

I fly a lot.  When doing so, I spend most of my time making weird observations.  While flying last week, I FINALLY realized what I can compare flying to these days; being a 5 year old in a kindergarten class.

The entire process begins when I am required to "stand in an orderly line" while begin herded through the security area.  While the entire process irritates Robby, I find that the things that bother me most are:  1.)  Having the choice of being exposed to radiation or having my private parts wanded and 2.)  being required to remove my shoes and stand on a germy surface (which might have a ringworm on it...).  Once I actually make it through THAT whole process, I can breathe for a moment.  And I mean just a moment, because theREAL quirkiness of flying is just about to begin!

BEWARE when you hear these words, "We are about to board...".  Although everyone has a seat number and a boarding number, there is the danger of a stampede.  People huddle around in semi-circle form as though a rugby game is about to begin.  Hold tight to your items (and your self...), for the pushing, shoving and line breaking is about to begin.  Ummm...NEWS ALERT!  EVERYBODY is getting on the plane!  Oh, I realize that part of the urgency of "being first" not only goes back to one's kindergarten days, but lies in the fact that most passengers are heavily burdened down with over-sized suitcases (they can't be considered carry-ons...) that they want to shove into the overhead compartments before all of the room runs out.  I hurridely find my seat, buckle in and watch THAT show...it can be QUITE interesting!

Once aboard the aircraft (OH MY GOSH! I now sound like I work for the airlines...), the next thing I like to check out is the "Flight Attendant Atmosphere".  Let me explain why this is such an important aspect of flying.  First...THEY ARE THE BOSS and Second...They are going to let you KNOW THEY ARE THE BOSS.  The flight attendants on one of my first flights last week are what I like to refer to as, "Grandmother Flight Attendants".  HEY!  I can say this because I AM a grandmother.  Well, maybe they are "Great-Grandmother Flight Attendants"...anyway, they are NOT the flight attendants one sees on that new television show, "Pan Am".  I usually perk my ears up and look for facial expressions to determine what the "Flight Attendant Atmosphere" will be for the duration of the flight.  On this particular flight, I knew right away not to tempt fate with this one. 

Like a good little "kindergartener" I quickly sat down, buckled myself in and watched people continue to board the plane and attempt to shove that luggage overhead without knocking the wheels off.  THAT'S when I noticed the look on "Grandmother's" face..."Oh my, 'Grandmother', what a snarly lip you have"! (And attitude to go with it, I noticed...).  Some people were definitely going to be in trouble on this flight; I determined that it would NOT be me.  Well, THAT didn't last for long.  Everyone was situated, buckled in and "Grandmother" was checking EVERYTHING (seat belts, chair incline, carry-ons under seats and electronic devices; you name it...she was checking it!).  I suddenly noticed that the guy sitting next to me had a BIG briefcase down by his feet blocking part of the emergency exit.  I knew it would only be a matter of time until she saw it; was this guy a rookie?  Did he not know the "Rules of Flight"?! (ugh...)  One NEVER want the flight attendant to take notice of someone in their row, because then she will continue to pass by your seat, checking on you, while giving you the "evil eye".  Well, notice him she did...but not for the reason I had feared.

This already non-compliant guy, upon looking around, decided that he would give Robby and me more room by moving over to a seat on the other side of the aisle.  Now, this isn't usually an issue and one greatly appreciated in most cases, however, apparently he had not weighed the "Flight Attendant Atmosphere" as closely as I had (or at all, for that matter...).  It was really of no consequence to me if HE wanted to "get in trouble" (because THAT was a certainty...)...UNTIL Robby and I were required to get unbuckled and stand up in the aisle while he moved (ugh!!!).  It reminded me of that movie, "The Exorcist" as I saw "Grandmother's" head swish quickly around on her shoulders.  My mama was right, after all...some people DO have "eyes in the back of their heads" and unfortunately, "Grandmother" was one of those people!  I could see her making her way toward us, with arms thrashing beside her body in an agitated manner.  At that point, I began to panic as I attempted to push HIM out into the aisle, while I grabbed Robby by the arm so we could begin buckling ourselves back into our seats.  I wanted her to focus on the "offender" and not on the "innocent accessories".  We were buckled back in our seats, while he was still taking his time situating himself in his new seat (apparently he WAS a rookie...).  THAT'S when he got it...WHAM!  "Sir, WHAT are you doing?"  He explained that he was just moving and then she noticed that briefcase.  "Sir, you are going to have to move that," she stated as she gave him a triumphant snarl.  We were all once again in kindergarten at that point.  She had banished him to the corner for being a "rule-breaker" as we all affected our "innocent, 'Whew!  I'm glad it's not me' faces".  He sat there moving his things around and eventually settled down with somewhat of a pout on his face, while "Grandmother" continued to stand over him and stare to make sure he didn't get out of his seat again.

Well, I had made another successful plane trip without getting in too much trouble.  However, it made me recall why I disliked being in a classroom so much.  There were just too many darn rules for my liking.  And if you remember correctly..."Rules are just NOT my forte'" (sigh...).  As the plane began to descend, the sun was blaring through the window in my eyes.  I asked Robby to please lower it and just as my eyes were adjusting again, I noticed that "Grandmother" was standing over our seats.  Well, crap!  What had WE done at the end of the flight to warrant this little visit?!  "Sir, it is federal regulation that you must keep that window raised during landing since it is over the wind."  Hmmm...I wondered WHY?  What was the purpose of THAT rule?  Did I opt to actually voice those questions?  Heck NO!  I said to Robby, "Well, I guess the sun is just gonna put my eyes out then!"...and sucked it up.  When the wheel hit the ground, I once again breathed.  I had survived another flight without making any serious infractions.  As I made my was past "Grandmother" while exiting the plane, however, I was once again in kindergarten.  I held my possessions close to my body and didn't push in line...I even attempted a "Thank-You" and smile, but all I received in return was a stern nod of the head.  Oh well, I supposed that was the kindergarten equivalent to a "straight face" on the behavior clothesline...and that was as good as it was gonna get for this flier!