There Are Lessons To Be Learned From Fairy Tales...

Last weekend, Robby, Ryan and I decided to see the new "Red Riding Hood" movie that had just been released.  When the previews were finished and the movie was about to begin, Robby leaned over and mumbled, "I don't even remember what "Red Riding Hood" was about."  UGH!!!  How could that be?  EVERYBODY should remember the tale of  "Red Riding Hood".  I didn't have much time, so I took a deep breath and said in one, quick, run-on sentence..."She was on her way to her grandmother's house to take her some goodies because her grandmother wasn't feeling well and when she got there the wolf had eaten her grandmother and was posing as her in bed and Red Riding Hood said, 'Grandmother, what BIG eyes you have'...grandmother replied, 'The better to see you with, my dear'...'Grandmother, what BIG ears you have'...'The better to hear you with, my dear'...'Grandmother, what BIG teeth you have'...'The better to EAT you with, my dear'...then he jumps up to eat her, the woodcutter comes in, kills the wolf and saves her AND in some happier versions, cuts the wolf's belly open and the grandmother pops out, perfectly OK...although I don't believe that will be happening in THIS movie (WHEW...all regaled before the credits were even finished).

I LOVE a fairy tale...always have and most likely always will.  However, while viewing the movie I began to think that there really ARE some lessons to be learned from fairy tales.  Since "Red Riding Hood" is the one I just saw, let's begin there...

1.  I like that fairy tales are generally set in the medieval times.  I LOVE everything about those times; castles,
     knights, princes.  And although Red Riding Hood was not from royalty and no prince comes to her aid, it
     still has all of those same elements.  There is the little town that is closed off from the forest by a fenced in
     wall, the people all know one another and it is what I like to refer to as a "community".  There is some-
     thing to be said about small communities.  Oh, sure, folks all know each other's business but they also all
     work together for the good of all.  THIS IS A LESSON WE CAN TAKE FROM FAIRY TALES...
     "LIFE IS NOT JUST ALL ABOUT SELF"!

2.  Fairy tales revolve around something happening in the "dark, scary forest".  The forest is NOT a place
     anyone would want to go...which brings me to the question, "Why would a parent EVER let a child travel
     by foot, ALONE anywhere through that forest?  There is danger lurking out there; not in human form, per
     se in the fairy tale, but wild animals!!  Simply staying on the path still might just not be very safe in my
     opinion.  THIS IS ANOTHER LESSON WE CAN TAKE FROM FAIRY TALES..."SIMPLY
     STAYING ON THE PATH MIGHT NOT BE ENOUGH.  STAY OUT OF THE FOREST; DON'T
     TEMPT TROUBLE."

3.  In fairy tales, there is usually evil lurking right around the corner.  Often times evil can be in human form
     in fairy tales; in Red Riding Hood, it is the "Wolf".  The people of the village KNOW that the wolf is
     lurking right around the corner...well, actually right there IN THE VILLAGE...AMONG THEM. 
     Suddenly people don't know who they can trust; who their REAL friends are...they turn on other people
     to save themselves.  ANOTHER LESSON WE CAN TAKE FROM FAIRY TALES..."YOU
     SHOULD BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE YOUR TRUE FRIENDS...THEY ARE THE ONES THAT
     HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TRUE TO YOU NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE IN YOUR LIFE."

4.  Generally, in fairy tales, "ordinary" people do "extraordinary" things.  In Red Riding Hood, no one
     really gives the woodcutter much respect.  Red Riding Hood's parents don't even want her marrying
     him because he is really in their social class.  Well, GUESS WHAT?...He's the one at the end of the
     day...who SAVES THE DAY!  He is just a very nice, conscientious guy who does the right things in
     life.  ANOTHER LESSON WE CAN TAKE FROM FAIRY TALES..."THERE ARE NICE
     PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO DO THE RIGHT THINGS FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN
     DOING THE RIGHT THINGS...BE CAREFUL WHO YOU JUDGE AND WHY YOU JUDGE
     THEM."

5.  All fairy tale endings are happy; why do you think we all like them so much?!  Although the main
     character goes through troubles and trials, in the end good always prevails.  Well, I know that you are
     most likely wondering HOW I can possibly say that this "happy ending" is a lesson that can be taken
     away from a fairy tale.  THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED HERE IS "THINGS WILL NOT ALWAYS
     GO YOUR WAY OR THE WAY YOU HAVE PLANNED, BUT AS LIFE CHANGES BE OPEN
     AND WILLING TO ACCEPT THOSE CHANGES AND MAKE THE BEST OF THEM...THIS
     WILL ENABLE YOU TO POSSIBLY EXPERIENCE YOUR OWN HAPPILY EVER AFTER..."

Well, I hope that you agree with me on my theory about fairy tales.  They are a lovely and memorable part of childhood for many of us.  The very thought of reading those stories brings a feeling of happiness to our lives.  It was a time when innocence reigned our little worlds.  THEN "real life" began (strangely right around the time we started our school careers...) and we didn't know how these stories were even relevant any more; why did our parents even read them to us?  THEY KNEW TOO..."THERE ARE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM FAIRY TALES".  Life is all about living; not regretting!  So go ahead...don't tempt trouble...know who your true friends are...be careful who you judge...find the "extraordinary" within the "ordinary"...and remember:  "Life is not just all about self".  So, put on that red shirt (or at least polish your nails RED...) and skip on out there into the world and make a difference and you just MIGHT stumble upon a "Happily Ever After" ending too!
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Spring Has Sprung!

Well, I suppose this year's groundhog was right...it is definitely an early spring here in the south.  I've been holding my breath and waiting for another cold snap to hit; you know, the one that Grandma and Mama said ALWAYS comes right before Easter.  Apparently this year, that "cold snap" is not going to happen and we are REALLY enjoying the wonderful weather and beautiful flowers.  It also put me in the mood to do a little spring time decorating around the house too.  Take a look at a few of the photos I took and hopefully it will inspire you to "spring into spring" yourself!

Welcome to spring!  My front entry way decorated for Easter.

My dining room table.  Notice the cute table runner with the Easter eggs on it.  Easter tapers in one of my antique candle holders given to me by my mother.

My antique buffet decorated for Easter...see the Easter egg candles in the little glass cups?


I just LOVE my Snow Bunnies!  Hope I get another one this year for Easter.

Dining room table.  The blue, floral plate was purchased at an area antique shop years ago.  Notice the polka dot glass; the set of these were my mother's.  I also added a blue polka dot napkin.


Dining room table decked out for spring!


Kitchen table dressed for spring.  Floral plate was purchased from an area antique shop.  Notice the pretty little sheer polka dot table runner and green napkins.


This sits in the center of my kitchen table.  It is a piece of antique Milk Glass that was given to me by my mother.


Complete view of my kitchen table decked out for spring!

Pulled out my bunny tea towels!

AND LOTS OF OTHER FUN EASTER DECORATIONS...


AND THEN THERE IS ALL OF THE OUTDOOR BEAUTY...













WELCOME TO SPRING, YA'LL!


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Saturday's Really Random Revelations...

Good Morning!  The weekend is here again along with another edition of my "Really Random Revelations".  Remember that these little tidbits are just for fun.  They are fleeting thoughts that have passed through my head at some point during the week.  I hope while reading them, they will make you smile and perhaps come up with a few of your own.

1.  I love sitting outside at night when the sky is clear, the stars are bright and all you can hear is the sound
     of crickets chirpping.

2. " Supper" is a southerner's dinner.

3.  OK...so, these little "retro owls" are super cute AND one of my new favorite things!

4.  I just LOVE picnics...ants, grass stains and all!

5.  Teach someone to READ...it is empowering.

6.  Nomads, gypsies, the whole wanderlust concept...I GET IT!

7.  EVERYONE needs a little "RETAIL THERAPY" now and then.

8.  Be honest with yourself...you will find it very cathartic.

9.  I really do like spring...well, except for the pollen.  However, I DO know that it is a necessary evil...I
     DID watch "THE BEE MOVIE", after all!

10. How can ANYONE not like a cupcake named, "ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT"?!  It is yellow cake with
      chocolate icing and sprinkles on top.  AND I can truly attest to the fact that it DOES have the ability
      to "adjust one's attitude"!

Well, there they are...Another set of "Really Random Revelations"!  I hope that they put a little smile on your face and a twinkle in your eyes on this beautiful Saturday morning.  Feel free to comment on any of mine and add a few of your own.  Now, get up, get out there and ENJOY your weekend!  And by all means...do something REALLY RANDOM!
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Elle in D.C. Update: Washington...The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!!!

Well, it is already "officially" spring and Elle is still in D.C....and apparently doing quite well.  Although she has adjusted to the big, busy city life, there are still a few things that a southern girl will NEVER get used to; some are good, some are bad and some are definitely ugly.

Robby is all "into" this Sunday night movie thing right now.  The movie has to either be a war movie, cowboy movie and we have even watched a gangster movie one time.  Yea, I know...he watches "chick flicks" with me, so it is only fair that I watch a guy show once a week.  So, the other day we were watching that old "spaghetti western", "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", starring Clint Eastwood.  While talking to Caitlin on the phone and hearing about some of her latest Washington escapades, I thought, "You know, her saga could also be entitled this.  So, I decided that I would share of few of those moments with you.  Listen carefully as this tale unfolds and you can most likely hear the strains of that familiar spaghetti western music at times.

THE GOOD:  Of course, there are lots of "good" things in Washington, D.C., such as just the city itself.  The
historical aspect alone is awe inspiring.  The actual architecture is beautiful and now that spring has begun to peek its head out, the pictures of the landscape that Caitlin has sent me are beautiful.  Then, there are the restaurants, cute boutiques, museums and specialty shops like D.C. Cupcakes!  There is a lot to see and do in D.C. and Elle has explored many of the nooks and cranies of the city.  Now that I have reminded you all of why we travel to D.C. and take our families there to visit, I will move on to the "bad" and "ugly"...aspects one discovers only by living and working in the city for any period of time.

THE BAD:  Washington is what can be referred to as a "walking city".  The layout of the city is such that people walk everywhere.  However, when having to go especially long distances, the public transit system is used.  I must say that I have been quite impressed that Elle has been able to figure this system out very well.  I don't know why I am surprised, though; she has her father's sense of direction.  She has told me that I could get lost with a GPS strapped to my body...AND I am very convincing while getting other people lost with me, assuring them that I KNOW I am going the right way.  Thankfully, Caitlin is not like this.  BUT traveling by bus every day has its own problems...and THIS is where the "bad" come into the picture.  Here are only a few examples of Elle's bus issues.  The buses often times run late.  Once, the bus driver passed their stop and Caitlin chased it down the street to the next stop.  Once there, she reamed the driver out for passing the stop and informed her that she would  NOW be riding for FREE...this ride had her digging into her purse for her chocolate stash.  On another instance, she hopped on the bus hoping to arrive at work early when the bus broke down.  They all had to get off of the bus and WALK the rest of the way to where they were going.  She called me during this particular walk complaing about the bus (how nothing good ever happens on the bus...) and then suddenly decided since she was already running late now, she would stop in and get something from Starbucks...do you see a trend going on here??  Bad experiences on the bus apparently make for binge eating and drinking.  OK, one final example of bad adventures on the bus.  Very recently Caitlin had to catch a different bus and upon entering found that she was the only caucasian on it.  Several of the patrons began to shout to her, "This bus isn't for white people; you're on the wrong bus...you need to get off!"  One would think that a 95 pound Barbie Doll might be intimidated by that, however, her having been in the city for several months, coupled with the fact that she did not want to be late for her appointment (OK...and having survived 3 older brothers didn't hurt either...) allowed her to pipe up and shout back, "I'm NOT getting off of this bus!"  The driver agreed that she didn't have to and she went along her merry (well...somewhat merry at this point) way.  SO...now you have had a glimpse of the "bad".  Are you ready for the "ugly"??

Being from the south, Elle had to adjust to people not being like her or ones she was used to being around.  I tried to prepare her for this but told her to just be herself...talkative and friendly.  This cute, southern charm all seemed to work well until one day just about a week ago.  In preparation for their huge project, she and her classmates have to attend many presentations at state buildings.  On this particular day it was the Department of Energy.  As the professor and students all stood in a very long line, the security was fierce.  Finally making it through two lines and individual pat downs, they made it to the last security check.  That is where they informed Caitin that she had an i-pad in her bag that had to be registered with security; she would have to go back to the end of the line and do that.  WHAT?!  With classmates and professor waiting on the other side, she made her way back.  There were several men in line and she explained her plight and asked if they would let her break in front of them so she could get with her class.  The men in front of her simply ignored her, while the one behind her opened his BIG, FAT, "UGLY" mouth and told her, "NO!  We've been waiting in line too and you aren't in any more of a hurry than we are.  You're probably just a tourist."  OK...I must interject here.  THIS is an example of why my family often times refers to me as a "man hater".  I'm not REALLY a "man hater" because I don't hate ALL men...I just hate the way THAT kind of man is! He gives a bad name to his entire gender...AND I truly hope that I do not encounter anyone similar to him on my little trip there because I would feel compelled to tell him as much.  Back to my story now.  She told him that she was indeed not a tourist but a student and her entire class was waiting just on the other side of security for her.  Still not budging and running his rude mouth she began to cry...then sob...finally tears were streaming down her face, (OK...if this is a spaghetti western, where is Clint Eastwood right about now??) when the men in front of her suddenly noticed what was going on.  They said they didn't hear her ask if she could break in line (hmmm...a likely story) and let her do so and then began talking to her to try to get her to quit crying.  When she finally got to the front of the line again, the "woman" security guard asked her what was wrong.  She explained that she needed to check her i-pad.  "You should have just cut to the front of the line and given it to me", she said.  That's when Caitlin told her she had tried to, but (motioning toward "rude man") he wouldn't let her.  Leaning over to see the culprit, she said, "Hmph!  You don't worry about him.  He might just be a little late for HIS appointment."  YES!!!  A girl after my own heart.  Anyway, the class was still waiting for her and although they were late, they did make the meeting.

As you can see, this Elle in Washington saga could definitley also be entitled "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly".  Any time one is living in a big city there are many different factors at play.  However, I must inform ya'll ( notice I did NOT say "you guys"...) that we just simply do it differently here in the south.  Oh, there are a "few" rude people who can be found here (most likely not born here...haha!), but for the most part we are all pretty pleasant.  You can stop and ask us for a favor or even where we purchased our cute shoes.  And chivalry is definitely NOT dead in the south.  Men, for the most part, still treat women with repsect and  can be found opening doors for them.  Yes, this has been quite an adventure for Elle; one that she will never forget.  Sometimes it takes a little "bad" and "ugly" to really appreciate the "good"! 
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Yogamaniac!!!

When I decided to return to South Beach this spring, I decided that I would like to attend one of the hotel's yoga classes.  I knew that it would most likely be different from the ones I attended at home, but felt sure that I could keep up with all of the moves (maybe wouldn't be able to walk the next day, but...)  What I was NOT prepared for was the, shall we say, "odd" instructor and some of his practices.

My friend who traveled to Miami with me brought her work-out clothes with her too.  However, on the morning of the yoga class, she said, "I don't think I'll go with you, but I WILL put my work-out shirt on in support of you."  Hmmm...OK; no big deal.  She isn't that "into" working out as I am.  Beside, I was curious to see what other yoga classes were like.  So, off I went.  They told me that there was usually 2-4 people there for a yoga class so that wouldn't be too bad.  The one other lady and I signed in at the same time and set out for the group fitness room.  We each took a mat and sat down, waiting for our instructor.  And in he popped!  The first thing that I noticed was that he was WAY too cheery and energetic for 8:30 in the morning.  And THAT was only the beginning of what was to be one of the "oddest" yoga sessions that I have ever been a part of.

I should have known how this was going to go from the onset because he (1st time I've ever had a male yoga instructor, also...) started the day off talking about how tree doctors, people doctors and animal doctors were just bad because we could all just heal ourselves from the inside out.  OK...WHATEVER.  I just came to get a little exercise, stretch and basically relax and clear my mind.  I was already in the room and I wasn't leaving...no matter how weird this might be in the end.  The music began and we started breathing.  Maybe this would be alright after all.  We went into some poses and they weren't too difficult...OK, the one where you were supposed to balance your legs in the air on your arms,with your head not touching the mat was NOT happening for me.  I told him that and he said, " Just try it; trust your body."  Ummm...NO WAY!  I cannot afford to fracture both of my wrists.  We continued on with the work-out and everything was going pretty well UNTIL...we were laying on our stomach with our hands grasping our ankles.  He said, "Raise up!  Open up your heart."  I had done this pose before and pulled myself up as far as I could.  I noticed that he was moving around the room, however, I was NOT prepared for what happened next.  Holding my ankles, he came up behind me and JERKED me up into the form of a letter "C"!!!  AND both of my ankles popped!  GREAT!  I had now most likely been hobbled.  How would I ever get out to the beach now?  I suppose the concierge could possibly get me a wheelchair...Luckily, I found that I was still able to stand (Whew!...).  Now, on to the cool down and relaxation part of the work-out.

As we sat cross-legged on our mats and began stretching and twisting, he kept referring the the "3rd Eye"; hmmm...I knew all about this "3rd Eye" but we just never talked about it that much in my classes and quite frankly, I didn't really care that much about that old 3rd Eye.  THEN, we came to a part where he said we were going to "Laugh like Santa Claus"...and HE proceeded to do just that!  I suppose I had a strange look on my face as he was doing this so dramatically and "over the top" and he said, "Just go with it."  After he finished laughing like Santa Claus, he shook his head like a dog and made blubbering noises with his mouth, looked up, swung his arms wide and began clapping his hands wildly!  Now, THIS was the WEIRDEST thing that I had ever experienced...UNTIL he wanted us to do it AGAIN doing the "wicked witch cackle"!

As we got ready to leave, he thanked us for being "Brave Warriors".  Brave?...Or just plain CRAZY?!?  I returned to find my friend and after regaling her with the story of my yoga class, she stated how glad she was that she had decided not to go with me.  Later that evening, as we were going out to eat dinner, I mentioned that I had leg cramps.  I couldn't imagine WHY.  I knew that I had drank plenty of water on the beach that day.  And THAT is when it dawned on me...the yoga class had me hurting and as the night wore on, I began to feel MORE sore muscles creep upon my body.  Well, I thought, you've heard about that old saying, "Curiosity killed the Cat"...I suppose MY curiosity almost killed THIS cat!
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A Week At The Beach...

If one has never visited South Beach, then there are a few things you need to know to prepare yourself for the beach experience there.  I have compiled a little list that should be helpful.  Some of the things that I will mention are a "given" for any beach trip; others are some things that you just might not have thought of.

1.  Don't go to South Beach without some sort of "base tan"; this is very important for a couple of reasons:
     First, you do NOT want to look like Snow White out there.  Those are the people that have traveled
     from a snowy winter up north and decide that they can get a savage tan in 5 days.  FYI...that is NOT
     possible; you will only find that you have suddenly become the color of a ripe tomato.  Second, you MUST
     look good out there from Day 1...as if you are a local or at least one of those foreigners on the beach who
     appear exotic....blend in; don't stand out.

2.  Don't over pack.  There are also a couple of reasons NOT to do this:  First, it will cost you more at the airport
     if you do not have a way of taking that extra weight out of your bag and putting it somewhere else...to carry on
     the plane (Never understood that; same weight on the same plane...).  Second, you will NEVER wear all of
     those clothes and shoes that you packed.  All you really need are some bathing suits (DO pack more than
     one of those...it's proper beach fashion etiquette!), sandals, sundresses and undies.

3.  Do pack your i-pod.  Whether you are laying out on the beach or taking a nice walk along the water,
     listening to your favorite music while doing so is a MUST.

4.  Do take your "easy reading" material.  What I mean by that is, one should read something light and relaxing
     while on a beach trip; something that makes you laugh and is interesting.  Who wants to be forced to
     concentrate too much while you are enjoying the beach?

5.  Do take PLENTY of sunscreen.  Even if you do have a base tan, one can easily get burned on South Beach.
     It is very tropical; warm temps plus nice breeze equals you not knowing how much sun you are actually
     getting until you get out of the shower.  I suggest at least a 30 SPF as the minimum.  Add a big bottle of
     moisturizer to your bag too.
6.  Unless you want to lay on a towel on the sand all day long, be sure to bring money for a chaise lounge.  It
      is definitely worth the 10 bucks they charge.  They have thick cushions on them with a fresh terry cloth slip
      cover and towel.  Umbrellas can be rented too.  It's a nice place for an afternoon nap on the beach. 

7.  Want to eat or drink on the beach?...No problem!  Little menus are attached to your chaise lounge chairs and
      waiters will take your order and bring it back to you...no need for you to ever have to miss catching any of
      those rays!  P.S....Although you will be tempted to drink those cute little drinks with catchy names, order
      a large bottle of water to sip on all day.  Believe me, those little drinks are pretty pricey AND they will
      NOT be very cute if you indulge in more than one at the end of the day.

8.  Now, for those who did not know...South Beach is a topless beach; be prepared.  That is not to say that
     everyone is topless or even the majority of women.  However, there ARE some...and often times it is
     not a very pretty sight.  Lots of thongs (both women and men) can also be found.  And these two things
    have reminded me of  one certain truth...MOST people DON'T look as good as they think they do in those
    outfits. ( NOTE TO SELF...Keep it classy as I grow older.  Bikinis are OK...the other, not so much.)  I'm
    mentioning this to you not only for your own benefit, but also because parents with children need to know
    this and be aware of it.

9.  The shopping and dining is a fabulous experience in South Beach and just a short walk away.  For most
     visitors, Lincoln Road is "The" place to be when one leaves the sand and sun for the day.  Outdoor bistros
     can be found all the way down the center of Lincoln Road...and I just LOVE dining outside!  On either side
     of the street are shops that ANY shopaholic would ADORE!

10. Get "unplugged" for the week.  This past week was great not only because I was in the sand in sun all day
      and then spent my evening dining outdoors with the tropical breeze kissing my newly tanned skin.  It was
      nice because we just got "unplugged" for 5 days.  NO television!  Have you ever tried that?  It is pretty
      enjoyable not to have it playing all the time...another tip for total relaxation!

Now that I have offered you a few tips for a "Week at the Beach", perhaps they will tempt you to start planning your own beach trip.  And if the tips were not not enough, I have added a few pictures below that just might entice you to get to your beach of choice a little quicker!

This is the entry way to the pool at our hotel:  The Loews Miami


Pool at The Loews Miami


South Beach, Miami


Beware!  These little creatures know when it's lunch time and would like you to share with them.


Parasailing anyone?


Grab a chaise lounge, umbrella and good book!


Drinks, anyone?


Lovely little church on Lincoln Road


Ahhh...There's NOTHING like having the sun on your face and the sand between your toes!
   
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Saturday's Really Random Revelations...

Good Morning!  I'm back again for another edition of my Really Random Revelations.  Remember...these are merely thoughts that have raced through my head and I decided to share with you.  They are not meant to be taken seriously, but hopefully compel you to perhaps smile or add a few of your own.

1.  How wonderful it is to get lost in a good book.

2.  Mick Jagger was right!..."You Can't Always Get What You Want"!

3.  The ocean has such restorative powers.  The sound of the lapping waves is the Earth's lullaby to a weary
     soul.

4.  A true southern girl NEVER wears white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day!

5.  I like dunking cookies in my coffee...YUM!

6.  I've been told that I "Move to the Beat of My Own Drum"...AND...your point is???

7.  I'll admit it...I sing out loud in the car...and occasionally dance too...to my 70's music!

8.  Don't you just love to sleep on freshly washed sheets?

9.  I just love it when a child says, "Let's pretend...".

10.  I passed a field of clover the other day.  Do you remember making clover necklaces?

Well, that's it for this week's Really Random Revelations.  I hope that you enjoyed reading them.  Feel free to comment on mine and leave a few of your own.  Now, go out, enjoy your weekend, have some FUN...and by all means do something RANDOM!
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Put Your Big Boy Boxers On And Man Up!!!

I'm sure that most of you have heard or seen that saying, "Put on your big girl panties and deal with it"!  I have another take on that same saying..."Put your big boy boxers on and man up"!  What was I thinking and how did I come up with that little saying of my own?...The situation with the democratic representatives from Wisconsin.

OK, OK...don't think I'm going to go all "political" on you because that is not what this is about.  Instead, it is about the "responsibility" issue and  winning and losing.  You see, I am and have always had very strong opinions concerning these issues and have attempted to instill these same values within my children.

As my children were growing up, there were many times that they decided to participate in activities where there would be a clear winner and loser.  I always encouraged them to enter these contests knowing that they could not always be the winner.  That was not to say that I set them up to be the loser, but there is a fine art to being a classy winner and loser.  One should set their goal, try their best and then learn to live with the outcome in a graceful manner.  Were my children always winners?  Absolutely NOT.  OK, so you would like examples?  There were times when they did not make the All-Star Baseball Team or the high school baseball team.  Sometimes they ran for a class officer position that they were not elected to or were not nominated as a class favorite that they thought they should have been nominated for.  David did not get into medical school the first year he applied and had to reapply again the next year.  Does accepting losses gracefully and in a classy manner mean that one gives up or quits altogether?  Absolutely NOT.  It merely means that you move on and go to "Plan B".  This bring me to the reason WHY the situation with the Wisconsin democratic representatives disturbed me so. 

When I heard on the news that those representatives had all left their state and were hiding out in Chicago, the first thought that entered my mind was..."If MY son was one of those guys, I would make my way to Chicago...located him...and tear his behind up!"  OK...I know that this may sound a little unreasonable to some of you, but as a mama, I feel that it is my "duty" to be my childrens' moral and ethical compasses.  Apparently, these guys thought it was OK to run away from the problem and their responsibility.  To ME, they appeared to be "poor losers".  Had no one taught them about the "fine art of losing"?  As the days went on and they continued to refuse to return to their jobs, I began to ponder the situation more.  And that is when I thought...you know, someone just needs to tell them to "Put Your Big Boy Boxers On And Man Up!!!"  After all, do you respect them more for what they did?  Did they appear to be courageous to you? Did it truly accomplish ANYTHING?  Would you want your daddy, husband or son to imitate them?  Think about those things and what garners respect from others...the courage to accept responsibility and be a graceful loser;  basically "Putting On Your Big Boy Boxers and Manning Up!"
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When It Rains, It POURS...And I Don't Mean Just The Wet Stuff!

Although the week began with pouring rain, thunderstorms and tornadoes swirling around us, it was only a precursor to the storm that was to come.  I suppose that Ryan's broken tooth incident was only the beginning to what would prove to be a very eventful Monday around our house.

Monday is generally my "catch-up day".  I clean, do laundry and basically piddle around the house most of the day.  This Monday, however, would start with a BANG.  Not being able to sleep well, I woke up around 2 am and headed for the couch.  Stopping off in the kitchen for something to drink, I noticed that I had several text messages on my phone from Caitlin; this couldn't be good.  It appeared that after her plane had landed in D.C., she began to feel ill.  I thought that perhaps it was the rough weather and subsequent bad landing she had just experienced; apparently not.  By 8 o'clock, it was clear the she was very sick with some sort of stomach virus and had to be taken to the emergency room...in Washington, D.C....by herself!  THIS was not something that set well with me.  I am her mother and I could not get to her to take care of her.  They started her on IV fluids and the texting and calling began (this was before Ash Wednesday...I was still texting then).  As the day wore on, the doctors believed that perhaps her problem could be her appendix; this REALLY worried me.  I had David call and speak to her doctor there and it was decided that she should have a CAT SCAN to determine if indeed her appendix was the problem.  Between saying my prayers, I called Robby.  He immediately began looking for flights out, knowing that I would be hopping on the next plane out if her test results came back indicating that she needed an appendectomy; I felt helpless.  I didn't like this long distance between us and her illness seemed to make it more intense.  After hours of praying,waiting and 5 bags of IV fluid, we found that it was not her appendix.  Praise God!  I was still not there, but I was definitely relieved that Caitlin did not have to have surgery.  Sending her home, the doctor instructed her to stay in bed for an additional day to recuperate.

Barely recovering from Caitlin's eventful day, I received a very frightening phone call from Ryan.  Being off from school for the Mardi Gras holiday, he had decided to get all of his "To Do List" done on Monday.  He had driven to Shreveport to meet with someone and then on to Marshall, Texas to meet with some other people.  Around 6 pm, he was on his way home.  When I spoke to him, I told him to call again when he got close to home and I would have him pick up dinner for us.  When he called back, he said, "I won't be home any time soon."  I thought that perhaps he had, had a flat tire.  Instead, what he told me had me taken aback.  He was driving his small 2-seater car, when an 18 wheeler threw off a tire tread, which flew back and hit his car.  The car began to skid off of the interstate and directly toward a steel light pole.  He related to me that at that point he closed his eyes because he thought that he would not be walking away from the accident alive.  Seconds later, he found that the car had missed the pole and was still moving; heading toward a wooded area.  Quickly pulling his emergency brake, he was able to stop the car...and walk away without a scratch.  My hear dropped to my feet when I heard this news.  A wrecker had to be called and friends came to wait with him while Robby made his way to the scene of the accident to pick Ryan up; he was 2 hours away from me. 

This had not been a good start to a new week.  But as I thought more about my day, I actually became very thankful.  When I awake each day, I ask God to cover my family with His protection and to send our guardian angels to watch over each of us as well.  All the while I had been anxious and worried, God had protected and taken care of us.  I wasn't sure how individuals who did not believe in God survived, for His grace is always sufficient.  He provides for us and cares for us although we do nothing to deserve it.  As the day came to a close, I thanked God for protecting my loved ones...and determined that I would continue to begin each day with my "Prayer of Protection" because some days "When It Rains, It Pours...And I Don't Mean Just The Wet Stuff!"
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Sand Between My Toes and Sun On My Face...Hello Miami!

As you are reading this, I am desperately trying to make my way to one of the BEST DESTINATIONS I have ever been...South Beach, Miami!  I know, I know, I always say that everywhere I go is the "Best" and "My Favorite" place to visit, but REALLY...Miami just puts a smile on my face!

Years ago, Robby brought me to Miami.  He did this, not because he loves or even remotely likes the beach, sand or sun, but because he knows that I do.  Well, we enjoyed it so much that a few later, we brought the family here for our annual vacation.  Then, when Caitlin was a junior in high school, just she and I decided to come for Spring Break...and we have been coming every year since then on her Spring Break; that is until this year.

With Caitlin being in Washington, D.C. this spring, I knew that her coming to Miami with would be a problem.  You see, this entire semester, she only get 2 Fridays off...no Spring Break; ugh!  What kind of program was this that she was enrolled in any way?  EVERYBODY knows that Spring Breaks are an "essential" part of college life.  After all...I want my little chickies to come home and play!  Well, seeing that she wouldn't be able to make the trip this year, I mentioned my dilemma to a friend of mine; her daughter was going on Spring Break with her sorority sisters.  That is when the idea came about that since we would both be without our daughters this year, we should go to the beach together!

It was a sort of spur of the moment trip but we were able to get all of the details hammered out with our schedules and are now on our way to a fabulous five fun-filled days in the sand and the sun.  Oh, believe me, our girls could not believe that we would even think of going to Miami without them, however, we did promise to bring them along next year.  So, for the next few days, I will be letting the sound of the ocean waves wash over me and take my mind to more peaceful pastures. I can't make any promises, but I will try to post some pictures of lovely South Beach later in the week!
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Saturday's Really Random Revelations!

Well, I'm back with some more of my really random thoughts this morning.  Remember...these are merely a few of my random thoughts that run through my mind.  They are not meant to be serious or have any hidden intellectual meanings.  So...here goes!

1. Music Is a wonderful gift that can even be found in nature.  Walk outside and listen...there is often
    times a musical symphony performing, with birds singing, the wind whistling and crickets chirping.

2.  Life is a series of choices one makes...make good ones!

3.  Dorothy was right...there really IS no place like HOME!

4.  I was just wondering if anybody knew when they started making the writing so small on the back of
     medicine bottles?!

5.  I may be a Ya-Ya (aka...grandmother), but I shall NEVER have gray hair...as long as they keep
     making bleach!

6.  Find something you really like to do and then immerse yourself in it totally.

7.  Don't let anyone tell you that you are limited in what you can do; the mountain may be higher for
     you to climb but you can eventually get to the top if you just continue to climb.

8.  Another really good thing about that south is...we eat grits...doused with butter...and cheese!  YUM!

9.  I like quirkiness.  If everybody were exactly alike, what a boring place the world  would be.

10. Don't you just love a sugar bowl?  Take your pick...a bowl where one keeps sugar, a football game or my personal favorite...that sweet spot on a baby's cheek where the SWEETEST sugar can be found!

Well, that does it does it for my really random revelations again.  I hope they perhaps made you smile or even think of a few random thoughts of your own.  Feel free to comment on mine or add some of your own.  Now, go out this weekend, have FUN...and by all means do something RANDOM!
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Searching For Our Loved Ones Amidst The Turmoil In Japan...

I awoke this morning and as usual, I flipped the television on from my bed.  As I tried to wipe the sleep from my eyes, I was suddenly jerked wide awake by the news of a major earthquake hitting Japan.  Sitting up, now alert, I immediately thought of my cousin's daughter-in-law, Akemi and her 2 year old granddaughter, Stephanie; they live in Tokyo.

We had only seen pictures of Akemi and Stephanie before July of this past year.  However, we were overjoyed to learn that they would be joining us this year for our 4th of July celebration at the lake.  Upon meeting them, they instantly became a part of our family and lives.  So, at the news of this devastating earthquake, I became instantly alert.  Grabbing the telephone, I started making calls.  First, I called Robby and he told me that he had already heard the news.  Next, I called my cousin, who was in town at my mother's house.  She was concerned that perhaps Akemi had dropped Stephanie off at daycare and then gone to work.  Afterwards the earthquake had hit and with the lack of train service, they were unable to be reunited.  I called Caitlin to tell her about the situation and one of her roommates told her about a web site she could go to, to see information about the status of peoples' loved ones in Japan.  At this time, she is still trying to find out where they are and how they are doing.  It is our hope and prayer that they have been reunited and are safe.


We all took pictures with Stephanie while she was here in July; you can find them below.


Akemi and Stephanie at our 4th of July celebration this past year.

My cousin, Gayle, Stephanie and Caitlin
My cousin, Gayle, and her granddaughter, Stephanie


Me with Stephanie


David with Stephanie

Please continue to pray for the people of Japan in this time of crisis.







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Boys Will Be Boys...Even When They're BIG Boys!!!

With our family weekend at an end, people began to make their way home.  Justin stayed in Natchitoches, David and Codi headed back to Mississippi and Caitlin hopped on her plane back to D.C.  Ryan was off an entire week for Mardi Gras so we would get to enjoy spending a little extra time with him.  As he headed off to meet friends after the Mardi Gras parade, I returned home to relax...or so I thought!

It had only been that very morning at church when I had been explaining to some friends of mine that, "If you had MY boys as children, you would have definitely been a proponent of spanking."  Oh, they laughed and then I said, "OK...How would you handle 3 little boys deciding to build a fire in the middle of the living room...on the carpet?!"  YEP!  NOW, you see what I'm talking about.  And that little incident only skims the surface.  Someone also recently asked me if I thought raising boys or girls was easier.  DEFINE "easy"...  I must say that although boys tend to traditionally get into MUCH more mischief than girls, it is the girls who are a LOT meaner.  OK, mothers of daughters, don't go getting your feathers all ruffled; let me explain.  While my boys were throwing punches, jumping off of roofs and setting small fires, my daughter was doing a totally different sort of battle; a battle of "cattiness"!  And it is called this for a reason.  With boys, after the punches are thrown, one can find them back to being best buddies; not so with girls.  Once the claws come out...LOOK OUT!  So, I say all of this to get to my point.  At SOME POINT, one would think that perhaps these "mishaps" with the boys would not continue to happen.  Parade day proved that this is apparently not so.

One would assume that after all of these years, the boys being involved in accidents would come to an end.  However, Ryan brought me back to the clear reality that it may go on forever...As I was driving Caitlin to the airport and dreaming of returning home to hit the couch for a little R and R, Ryan called.  I knew that he was going to meet up with friends at the Mardi Gras Parade and then go to another friend's house for food and drinks afterwards.  Answering the phone he very calmly asked, "Do you think you could get the dentist on the phone?"  Hmmm...one never knows what Ryan is thinking, so I asked, "Today?  Why?"  "Well, Mom, I cracked my front tooth."  WHAT?!  OH MY GOSH!!!  He had left New Orleans for the week for a bit more calm atmosphere during the holiday and he had broken a tooth?!  And a FRONT one at that?!  As accidents go, my kids tends to have some real doozies. "OK, Ryan, HOW did you break your tooth?"  Telling me it was no big deal and an "easy fix" (yea...you're just a first year dental student; what do you know?), he replayed what had happened.  He was actually at the friend's house and they were grilling and hugging was going on...when an elbow accidentally hit him...at the exact time he put his drink to his mouth...thus, the chipped front tooth (ugh...).  Finding a dentist in town...on a Sunday afternoon...during Mardi Gras weekend would be no easy task.

As soon as I entered the house, I grabbed the phone book and began dialing numbers.  I had not seen the tooth yet, but all I could think of was those beautiful, white, brace straightened teeth...RUINED!  As dollar signs ran through my mind, I KNEW that no matter what, this tooth HAD to be fixed; not only was it a front tooth that could be easily seen, but Ryan is a dental student...how would THAT look?  The call to our dentist was futile; no answer, no answering machine.  I kept running down the line of friends who were also dentists...no luck.  Finally, I thought of one of his fellow classmates whose dad is also a dentist.  Quickly calling Ryan, he had not thought of him either but rang his friend to see if perhaps his dad could fix the tooth.  He wasn't really sure what his dad was doing...on a Sunday afternoon...on Mardi Gras weekend, but he would give him a call.  His friend's dad indeed did call back and ended up fixing the broken tooth.  WHEW!  Another close call...

So, as Ryan walked in and showed me the before picture he had taken of the tooth and then flashed me his toothy grin to show off the repair work that had been done, I had to ask myself a question..."Will boys ALWAYS be boys?"  One would think that I couldn't be shocked at ANY mishap my boys called me about.  However, it is becoming perfectly clear now that "Boys WILL be boys"...FOREVER!
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Give It Up For Lent!

When I told Robby that he would really like what I was going to give up for Lent this year, he said, "We're not catholic."  "Silly...I KNOW that, but I have been thinking about the whole Lent thing for a while and I decided that I could just borrow this from my catholic friends this year.  I believe that giving something up during the Lenten season, just prior to Easter, is quite appropriate.

Two of my four children attended catholic school, so I was already very familiar with Ash Wednesday and Lent.  Many of my friends are also catholic and yearly give something up during the Lenten season.  The kids often times are not as serious about giving something up that is important to them, however, my adults friends are.  Using common sense to attempt to understand this, I put two and two together to create my own sarifice this year.

It is my opinion that Lent represents Christ's sacrifice of giving his life up for us.  How could I not consider giving something up that "appears" to be important to me?  So, as I began trying to think of something, Robby's continual bugging me about a habit I have came to mind.  Then, I KNEW what my sacrifice would be; no more texting for me until Easter.

OK, I know that some of you may think that this is not something one would or should give up, but let me explain.  I believe that the sacrifice should be 1.  Personal and 2.  Something that is truly a sacrifice to that individual. And THAT is exactly why "texting" came to my mind when considering something that would be a sacrifice to me.  Unfortunately, I have become a victim of obsessive texting.  My kids text, my friends text, so I got it added to my cell phone plan a few years back and now I am hopelessly hooked on texting.  This habit REALLY irritates Robby for several reasons. First, he cannot stand for people to constantly be checking their phones and sending messages back and forth.  And that leads him to the second reason he hates texting.  He said that people do not communicate verbally any more.  In the past, people would pick up a telephone and talk to someone, but now in this age of electronics, there is no "personal communication" going on between individuals.  Which leads him to question, "Why is it so difficult to just pick up the phone when you want to ask someone something?"  Hmmm...now THAT was food for thought.  I suppose my reason for not doing so (and perhaps many others' reason...) is because it takes more time to call someone, due to the fact that you might then get tied up talking about other stuff and then find that you have wasted a lot of time that you really didn't have to wast in the first place.  I KNOW...that's probably a pretty lame excuse, but as "excuses" go, most are lame any way.  He also makes a case in thinking that perhaps this new craze of texting will probably cause a new medical phenomena; some sort of condition with the fingers from so much overuse.  THEN, people will begin to sue the companies who invented cell phones for this problem...although THEY were the ones who CHOSE to text in the first place.  So...in saying all of this, you NOW know my reason for giving texting up for Lent!

Giving this texting habit up for Lent will definitely be difficult AND a sacrifice for me because I am truly addicted to it...and everyone KNOWS that admitting you have a problem is the beginning of curing it.  I not only know that it is a bad habit, but it also irritates Robby, so I want to give him a little "Lenten Gift" too!  So, I will be CALLING to tell all of my children to CALL ME if they need anything from Ash Wednesday until Easter.  Oh, I realize that they may forget and send me a text occasionally or a picture.  I can't be penalized for receiving them, but I will definitely NOT respond to them.  This may not be a convenient or easy thing for me to do, but isn't that what Lent is all about?  It wasn't easy or convenient for Christ to get on that cross for me either  He made a much larger sacrifice for me...shouldn't I be able to make a smaller one for the one I love?
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A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words!

Although the weather here turned out a bit rainy and cooler thaN expected, we were still all able to enjoy the weekend with all the kids being home together.  At every turn, I was snapping pictures and then thought...why not let the pictures tell the story of what a great time we all had together?  So...here goes:  "A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words!"

Here are the crawfish from our first Crawfish Boil of the season!


Robby, Justin and Ryan boiling crawfish...inside the garage because of the rain.



Friends and family all showed up for our first crawfish boil of the season.


Rylee passed out Mardi Gras beads to everyone before they started eating crawfish!
Since Caitlin was home for the weekend from D.C., everyone wanted a picture with her!
Caitlin and Me

Caitlin and Pa-Paw

Caitlin and David



 
Caitlin and Mimi


And there was definitely game playing this weekend...

The crew playing cards

I got to play Barbie Dolls with Rylee
 

 
Rylee had Justin and Ryan playing Pick Up Sticks with her.

As the day came to a close, I decided I wanted a picture of me and all of the kids...who knew when they would all be home again at the same time.  THIS is how THAT turned out!


TAKE 1...DAVID!!!!!


TAKE 2...DAVID!!!!!


TAKE 3...OH MY GOSH, COME ON, DAVID!!!

TAKE 4...JUSTIN!!! and DAVID!!!!!

Oh well...these pictures pretty much say it all for this motley crew!


Happy Mardi Gras, Ya'll!













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