SOMEBODY Has To Be SECOND...

OK...so this blog post could also have a subtitle..."Confessions of a Grandmother".  I didn't want to put that in my title because as most of you know, I do NOT like to be referred to as "grandmother" or any other geriatric sounding name.  Perhaps THAT is why I have the "little problem" I have concerning grandparent hood.

Riding in the car on the way home from church Sunday, I brought up the fact that our pastor had mentioned that his daughter was expecting her first child.  He had said, from the pulpit, something like..."I can't wait to spoil that little girl"...you know, the "usual".  We ALL do such things when our children are EXPECTING the baby.  When the baby is actually BORN...well, things REALLY get...hmmm, for lack of  a better word, COMPETITIVE!

I have mentioned before how extremely competitive my husband and children are and that I truly am not.  Things changed a bit (OK...a LOT...) when our first grandchild, Parker Ann, was born last August.  Although Sarah's parents do not live in the same city (or even state for that matter...) I was feeling the pressure early on.  I wanted that baby to have EVERYTHING!  So, I set out furnishing the nursery, buying the "Cadillac" of strollers, designer baby clothes and shoes...Don't think badly of me, because I DID ask her parents if THEY wanted to buy some of those things first.  I may have lost my mind there for a minute, but I KNEW my "baby etiquette"!  This was only a precursor of things to come.  The REAL competition began on the day the baby was born.

Now, I am only making these confessions for one reason:  EVERY  grandparent (OK...grandmother) feels this way.  Well, I'm pretty sure of it, at least... And to ADMIT it openly SHOULD have some sort of cathartic properties, I'm hoping! When our pastor announced the upcoming birth of his grandchild, I told Robby, "Poor guy, both sets of grandparents live in the same city."  I had been lucky enough to NOT have that issue and I was still having these feelings of competitiveness.  Let me explain for those of you who have not yet walked in my shoes.  You see, I notice every little thing that the other grandmother does and I sift through it in my newly acquired grandmother filter.  Robby (and most other grandfathers...) does not posses this filter, but I must say that he is tuning in to mine quite well.  The first thing my filter threw out was the "Firsts".  You know, "Baby's 1st" Halloween onesie...Baby's 1st Christmas ornament...stocking...baby doll...beach trip...You get the picture.  It is was not going to be in the cards for me to get to purchase ANY of the "firsts" for Parker Ann.  OH...believe me...I tried and found that this was not a competition I wanted to enter.  I'm not going to lie...I wanted to be a part of creating an heirloom that Parker could carry with her for the rest of her life too.  I had quite a few "internal" battles concerning this situation, while Robby tried to reason with me "externally".  THIS is the answer that I came up with...

Sure, I would like to buy Parker Ann a few (or at least one...) of her firsts, but is that what is REALLY important?  It is worth a lifetime of "Firsts" just to see that little smile on her face as she now recognizes her Ya-Ya and crawls over for me to pick her up.  When her chubby little hands grab my face and she giggles, it reminds me that I am very fortunate to not only have her in my life but also living close enough to see her at any given moment.  Another "first" is coming up in August...Parker's 1st birthday.  I have already been told that her other grandmother is getting her, her "first" table and chairs so that she can have tea parties.  That's OK...No, REALLY it is.  I told Robby that I didn't know where Justin was going to put it or if it was even allowed in their neighborhood, but I guessed I would have to show up with a pony!  OK...I'm just kidding...(wink, wink!)
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When You Get Tired, Just Slow Down...Catch Your Breath...And Then Start Again!

This could be good "life advice" to offer others:  "When you get tired, just slow down...catch your breath...and then start again."  However, it is the advice I gave myself last week when I decided to add a little something extra to my workout routine; I'm not really sure WHAT I was thinking!

Routine...that is a word that I pretty much hate.  Doing the same thing over and over gets mighty boring, so from time to time, I will change things up a bit.  I decided to start run/walking the neighborhood next to my house every other day.  That might not seem like much to most of you, but did I happen to mention that I am NOT (and have NEVER been...) a runner?  Not even in elementary, junior high or high school was I EVER able to run.  I can remember my gym teacher putting us out on the track and talking to us about getting a "second wind" eventually.  Well, all I can recall consistently getting was that stitch in my side...which in turn kept me from being able to run or liking it for that matter.  So, you may be asking yourself..."WHY, then, at 49 years of age do you think you can run NOW?"  Hmmm...GOOD QUESTION!

Well THIS is what I was thinking when I considered this "new" routine (ugh...no matter what I do, I can't get away from that word!).  First, I thought about summer.  The swimming pool water was heating up and I REALLY didn't want to miss out on any of that pool time.  The gym is about a 25 minute trip, one way...that was a lot of time.  Every other day I just did cardio...I could do that by running up in the neighborhood.  Essentially, I could be "killing two birds with one stone", so to speak.  So I put on my tennis shoes and headed out on day 1.  While walking up to the neighborhood (which is quite hilly...) I needed to set some ground rules for myself.  Walk to warm up...do NOT run the hills at first...and only run until I got tired, walk some more and then pick up the running again.  I wasn't about to start believing that "second wind" stuff; I would do things MY WAY!  And THEN my reward would be to have a little pool time that afternoon.

As I was beginning this "new routine", I also decided that I would not run with my i-pod in my ear.  Oh, I LOVE to listen to my i-pod, but I thought that I could make better use of my "mental time".  Our pastor is always talking about having a little "quiet time", so I thought this would be the PERFECT  time for that as well.  During the walking part, I talked to God and during the running part, I listened.  The peacefulness of the morning was nice.  I heard those birds entering into their own conversations, while the wind blew the smell of fresh clothes drying across the air.  Most everybody had already left for work so there was no sound of vehicles or machines...just me and the great outdoors. 

I took my advice about running until I became tired, then walking and starting again.  I'm no expert at fitness, but this seemed to be working for me.  When I got home I felt good!  Not only did my body feel like it had a good work out, but my mind and soul did too.  THAT'S when I began thinking about this potentially being a "life motto" as well.  Often times, we tend to jump full force into things and go so strongly that we wear ourselves out so completely that in our exhaustion we lose the desire to do anything.  Try the advice I gave myself.  When you become tired...slow down.  There is no shame in slowing down; it allows you to regroup and think about life.  Use that time to participate in a couple of important conversations.  First, find that quiet time with God that you most likely desperately need.  And second, have a little "internal conversation"; as crazy as it may seem, I find that some of my best conversations have been with myself.  THEN, when you feel like you've caught your breath...DON'T GIVE UP!  Start over again, renewed, refreshed and ready to run the race again!
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Now, WHY In The WORLD Would My Mama Make Me Pluck A Chicken???

It was the first paper I  was ever assigned to write in a college English class.  Although I made a "strong C" on that paper, my professor made comments that led me to believe that he was quite curious about the subject matter..."How to Prepare a Chicken from Pen to Table".

You see, we had to write a "How To" paper and well, quite frankly, I really couldn't think of very many things that I had been required to do that I could write about step by step and THEN it hit me...I could write about my "chicken plucking day"!

I'm still not really sure what my mother was thinking.  I was perhaps 11 or 12 years old, when she announced to me that we would be going to my grandparent's house for the weekend.  And it was not to be just for a relaxed visit.  This was a trip with a purpose.  We would be clearing out the chicken yard and stocking my grandma's freezer...it was "chicken plucking day".  Hmmm...I wasn't totally clear what all that entailed, but I can definitely say that I was NOT excited for that little event.

My excitement waned even more when I learned that I was also expected to PARTICIPATE  in the event!  WHAT?!  I didn't know "nothin' bout pluckin' no chickens"!  What was my mother THINKING?!  Well, I knew WHY this was being done, I just didn't know why I had to assist.  You see, my grandparents lived in a very rural area; on a farm actually.  They lived on whatever they raised...produce from the garden, pork from the pigs, milk from the cow and eggs and poultry from the chickens, of course.  I suppose I had no idea HOW that chicken got to the table, but I was about to find out.  And in the process, NEVER look at chicken the same way again!

So, as I stood at my station, sweat dripping down my forehead, I watched in awe as my mother and aunt CHASED (YES!  actually physically RAN...) chickens around the yard.  And then to my horror swung those chicken around by the neck to kill them!  OK...so I now knew not only where the saying, "wringing one's neck" came from, but also "running around like a chicken with its head cut off" meant.  Did you know that they REALLY do that?!  After those creatures ended up for a soak in that boiling water, they landed on MY table.

Those wet, stinky "yard birds" were thrown across my table next and I couldn't IMAGINE what I was suppose to do with those creatures.  UGH!!!  The smell was horrific...SURELY they did not expect me to TOUCH them!  Indeed,I found out that they did.  My task, I quickly found out, was to PLUCK THOSE CHICKENS!  Oh, I tried to get out of it by telling them that I didn't know HOW to pluck a chicken...NO PROBLEM; we'll show you how.  GREAT!  Just what a girl ALWAYS wanted to learn how to do.  And so I was shown how pluck those feathers right out of the chickens.  Thankfully, there was someone else plucking chickens too, because I chose to only pull one out at a time, while they were grabbing handfuls.

So, with sweat dripping and the stench of boiling chickens permeating the air, late in the afternoon our task was finally finished.  I couldn't wait to get a bath and cool off.  As I was doing so, I could hear preparations for dinner being made in the kitchen.  Making my way to the table I barely had time to ask what we were eating when my grandmother plopped a huge platter down in the middle of the table.  What was on it?  Those very CHICKENS that I had spent so much time with that day!!!  Suddenly, my appetite disappeared.  There was NO WAY I could eat fried chicken tonight or any day in the near future! 

What did I learn from my "Chicken Plucking Day"?  Only that I hope to NEVER have to participate in anything like that again!
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Grits, Pralines and Pecans...

OK...so, when YOU are the one who invented the food, YOU get to say what the pronunciation of that food is.  I know that you are most likely wondering..."WHAT is she talking about NOW?!"  Well, it all started with Caitlin coming into the den the other evening and saying, "How do you pronounce the word, 'pralines'?"  And I immediately KNEW what was up!

My answer to Caitlin's question was another question..."Did you just get off the phone with Kevin?"  She laughed as Robby chimed in, "I bet he pronounces it PRAY-LEEN!"  Yep!  That's EXACTLY what had happened.  I told her that was the "Yankee Way" (no offense intended...just a fact) of pronouncing it.  I said to tell Kevin that "If you invented the food, you get to say how to pronounce the name of it".  Then, I began to think..."I guess he says PEE-CAN for pecans too..."  Now, don't get me wrong...we all like Kevin, but having a northerner around is sorta fun.  He should KNOW how these things are pronounced...after all, his mother is a southern gal; originally from Texas.  That's why I was astonished that he also did not eat one of our FAVORITE breakfast dishes...GRITS.

I found years ago that if one travels too far north, they run into this "Breakfast Problem".  Either there are NO grits to be found on the menu or the grits they attempt to serve are not very good.  My own father-in-law, although he has been living here in Louisiana for MANY years, STILLl refuses to eat grits.  He is from Buffalo, New York; enough said!  I have decided that I know why most people don't like this food we feed to our babies as soon as they can eat.  It all lies in the preparation.  One has to KNOW the "proper" way to prepare grits.  In saying this, I will tell you how it is done.  First, STAY AWAY from those "instant" ones!  The "real" ones only take a minute...OK 5 MINUTES.  All you have to do is simply follow the directions on the box...the STOVE TOP directions, that is.  Don't EVER prepare grits in the microwave.  So, put the water in the pot with a little salt and when it begins to boil, pour the grits in...and HERE is the secret ingredient that makes grits taste so YUMMY; BUTTER!  And I mean "real butter"; not margarine or any of that spread stuff.  Cut off a big ole hunk of butter and throw it in the pot too.  Stir it, turn the fire down to simmer and voila'...you've got good old southern grits!  For a little variation on the classic version of grits, you can also add some mild cheddar cheese.  Now, WHO in the world couldn't just LOVE this totally southern dish?! 

Now, on to the Pralines (PRAH-LEENS).  Now, Kevin told Caitlin that, "Pralines are just sugar and pecans"...that is just not so; pralines are so much more.  One can find them almost EVERYWHERE in the south; gas stations, convenience stores, at the cash register in restaurants and, of course in EVERY home during the Christmas holiday season; they are just the perfect, sugary after dinner (or any old time...) sweet treat. And the pecans (PUH-CAHNS) that can be found in those  pralines fall off of our pecan trees that are all over the place.  As a child, we would take plastic ice cream buckets out to pick our own pecans for baking homemade goodies.  I have even been given pecans in decorative tins as Christmas presents before.  Pecans can just be considered the "jewel of the south".  And sugar??  Sugar Cane crops are plentiful down here.  Why, I can recall breaking off pieces of sugar cane and chewing on the actual stalk to extract that sweet, raw flavor.  Whoever thought of  putting these "southern grown staples" together to make the tasty praline deserves a great big THANK YOU!

So, the way I see it is, WE grow the ingredients, WE invent the foods... WE get to say how it is pronounced!  Grits, pralines and pecans...However anyone looks at it...it is all YUMMY, SOUTHERN COOKIN'!
DELICIOUS Grits With REAL BUTTER...YUMMY!!!

Pecans...The "Jewel of the South"
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NEEDED: A NEW Family Picture For My Blog!

Did you notice it?...I changed the "Family Picture" that is heading my blog.  I thought after a little over a year, it was time to change it for several reasons.  First, there are a couple of "new" players in the saga AND I figured that Sarah might appreciate not having a pregnancy picture of herself on it.

So, along with the picture I decided that I would also give you a little update on everyone.  Let's start from left to right:  Here we have David and Codi.  If you all remember correctly, last year around this time, we were getting ready for their wedding.  They got married in July and moved to Hattisburg, Mississippi, where David is doing his clinical rotations for medical school.  He has just has one more year of rotations left there and then graduation next May and residency.  It was sort of difficult for Codi to get a job using her Public Relations degree since they were only guaranteed to be living in Hattisburg for 2 years, so instead she got a job working at a local school in a classroom with autistic children.  I know that it is "wishful thinking" on my part, but I am hoping that they will start a family soon...Parker Ann needs a little cousin to play with!

Moving right along, next to David and Codi is Caitlin and Kevin.  I believe EVERYONE knows Caitlin (aka:  Elle...) and what she has been up to lately with all of her adventures in Washington, D.C. for the semester.  She is home for the summer now and I have my old buddy back to run the roads with; getting pedicures, laying out by the pool and watching those chick flicks that the guys were subjected to watch with me while she was away from home.  Beside her is a "new player" in our saga...Kevin.  Kevin and Caitlin have been officially dating since last September.  He and David have been good friends for about 3 years now.  They met in medical school and were actually neighbors for a year while David was living in Kentucky.  Yes, you heard right...he lives in Kentucky!  So, he and Caitlin have been flying back and forth for almost a year now in this long distance relationship.  The Rogenmoser family has gotten to know Kevin pretty well and I will say that we like him well enough to tease him just like one us...OK, that means we now have ANOTHER "yankee" to pick on!  Up until now, Robby's father was the only northerner we had to tease, being from Buffalo, New York originally.  Look for a few little blog posts begin to pop up with this "new player".

Moving right along we have Ryan standing next to ME!  Most of the time that is where one will find my little Poo Bear.  Although I truly have no "favorites" where my kids are concerned, he (and all of the other kids...) tout Ryan as being "Mama's little baby".  Ryan moved to Metarie (a suburb of New Orleans) last June, where he began his first year of dental school.  He just completed year one (yay!!!) and is home for a few weeks to relax before beginning year 2 of his studies begin.  We all enjoy Ryan being here because he has such a dry sense of humor and keeps the "pot stirred" all of the time.  Also, he is the family's "Most Eligible Bachelor"!  Look for a blog post soon on how Caitlin and I attempted to remedy that situation!  OK...so I'm standing next to Ryan and I will have to say that I have been quite busy this past year.  I began blogging about 1 year ago as a study in discipline for myself.  I have always wanted to write a book (and actually am presently working on a children's book...), but never had time to do any serious writing because I was always so busy raising my four kids.  Oh, I edited more than my fair share of English papers for my children (and their friends...) over the years, but I have truly enjoyed and look forward to writing several pieces a week.  Enough about me...on to the next person;  Robby.

Robby, or as we now refer to him...Poppi, is the head honcho of this motley crew.  And BOY, does he have his work cut out for him.  He is the one truly level headed, fair minded person in this group.  I won't even act like I am, because I know it just ain't so.  Every time we get together, go out to eat or travel together on a family vacation, it become sort of like a 2nd grade field trip.  And fortunately, we have a GREAT leader.  He is a problem solver to all of us, a wonderful soul mate to me, fabulous father and father-in-law and silly and fun Poppi to Parker Ann.  We all adore Robby and everything he does unselfishly for us.

Next down the line is our "Family Within a Family"...Justin, Sarah and Parker Ann.  This past year, Justin and Sarah have been through a lot of changes...and our "Big, Fat Family" has been on THEIR journey the entire way.  First, Justin and Sarah gave birth to Parker Ann in August...need I say more?  This little sweetheart is the apple of ALL our eyes.  There are so many of us to pass her around and play with her, she NEVER lacks for attention.  Justin has also been managing the new ACE Hardware store that we built last year.  In over a year, he has learned a vast amount about operating a business that college could have never taught him.  He and Sarah also built their first home in Natchitoches.  Sarah decided not to return to work, becoming a stay at home mom.

So, although this past year has been quite busy and eventful, we wouldn't have things any other way; God has richely blessed us.  I hope that all of you will continue to travel with us on our journey as we continue to navigate this world as a "BIG FAT FAMILY" that encounters MUCH along the way.  Remember...there is NEVER a dull moment when you peek in on "A Day In The Life Of A Mom"!
Robby and Me...Easter Sunday Lunch

Justin, Sarah and Parker Ann

David and Codi

Caitlin and Kevin

Ya-Ya and Parker Ann

Our "BIG FAT FAMILY"!
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The Case Of The Missing Wallet...

It was a very busy Sunday.  It started out with Sunday School and church, then lunch followed by family members gathering at our house that afternoon.  While Robby put yet ANOTHER baby bed together for Parker Ann, Ryan decided to bake a carrot cake.  There were boxes, tools, food and diapers bags all over the kitchen...and THAT made for mayhem later!

Parker spent the night with us Sunday night, so I was determined to be "on my game" this time around.  She got fed, bathed and put to bed by 7 O'clock that evening.  Afterwards, I attempted to clean things up a bit, but didn't want to make too much noise...a sleeping baby and all, ya know.  I would take the "Scarlet Approach" and just "worry about that tomorrow".  Well, when "tomorrow" arrived, so did a little mystery..."The Case of the Missing Wallet".

Robby has a habit of throwing his stuff (keys, phone, wallet, hats, etc...) down on the kitchen counter when he comes home every day.  Well, Sunday was pretty chaotic and Monday morning, I Robby emptying the trash and putting a car seat in the car before he left for work.  It was much later in the day that he realized that he had not picked his wallet up when he headed out of the house.  He called to ask me if I could check to make sure it was on the kitchen counter; it was not.  Not too terribly worried at the time, Robby said that he would go back to the office to see if he perhaps had left it there; no luck.  And THAT is when the search for the missing wallet became the FRANTIC search for the missing wallet!

Upon informing me that he had not found his wallet, Caitlin and I began the search at home.  We looked in vehicles and drawers and trash cans...still no wallet.  When Robby got home, he got online to see if his credit cards had been used and they had not.  I told him that this meant that the wallet MUST be at our house (or at least in our possession...).  The next step was to retrace our steps from the day before.  OK, after church, we had gone to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch.  We definitely remembered him taking his wallet out to pay for the meal.  Then, we went to Target, where I payed for the purchases there.  MAYBE the wallet got left on the counter at the restaurant.  We called and they said they did not have the wallet, but he was welcome to come view the video tape to see if it showed him leaving it there.  Hmmm...we would keep that option open, but in the meantime we continued to think of WHERE that wallet could be.  I would sleep on it and see what I came up with the next day.

By Tuesday, things were getting into that "Frantic Mode".  If we didn't find the wallet soon, we would have to start cancelling credit cards.  Robby got online again and there was still no activity on the cards...we would begin brainstorming again.  Now, WHERE could the wallet be???  I thought of something!  Robby had changed clothes in the washroom after church and I had just scooped the clothes up and stuck them in the bag that went to the cleaners.  They had picked that bag up first thing Monday morning...the wallet HAD to have gotten accidentally put in the bag with the clothes.  I called the cleaners...no, they had not seen a wallet (sigh...).  The day continued on with various ideas popping into our heads all day long.  Robby made that trip to the restaurant, where he saw himself on the video put his wallet back in his pocket.  Caitlin and I even drove over there and looked in the parking lot where we had parked that day...no wallet. I called to ask Sarah to look through all of Parker's diaper bags...no wallet. Frustrated, Robby eventually headed out to the golf course to clear his head.  That didn't work very well for him.  Instead of clearing his head, he cleared his golf bag out a little by breaking a couple of his clubs!  OK, now...THIS was enough.  I decided that he just needed to cool off, call and cancel the credit cards and be done with it.  I told him that although he HATES making mistakes, we all do; it's just a part of life and nothing to get so stressed out about.  I could tell that he wasn't really buying my way of thinking.  He informed me that he was coming home to "clean house".  And by that, he meant he was about to search the place with a fine tooth comb!  GREAT...

As we walked into the house, I began messing with something and Caitlin was on the telephone when we heard Robby say, "Well, well, well...look what I found!"  Caitlin and I walked around to where he was standing and what we saw shocked us as we began to laugh!  Remember that carrot cake that Ryan was baking for hours Sunday afternoon?  Well, apparently he had taken several pans out of the cabinet to see which ones he wanted to use.  In the process of putting them on the cabinet, the magnetic part of Robby's wallet had stuck to the pans and Ryan not noticing this placed the pans back in the cabinet...with the wallet stuck to them!  No wonder we couldn't find that wallet!  WHO would have EVER thought to look in the CABINET??  Oh, well, the "Mystery of the Missing Wallet" had thankfully been solved and we could all relax and get back to our daily grind!
Robby's wallet stuck to the bottom of a cake pan!
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Hey...Will Y'all Adopt Me???

Robby is Native American.  Let me clarify that...He and our children are registered, card carrying, Choctaw, Native Americans.  Their tribal headquarters are located in Durant, Oklahoma. Last week, Robby, Caitlin and I all decided to make a trip there to visit with some of the folks and in the process I learned quite a lot about my husband and children's heritage.

The Choctaw Indians are not strangers to me; I have been told my entire life that I have some of that very blood running through my own veins.  Unfortunately, my family's name is not on a register anywhere, so I do not have a "card" indicating this.  However, a few years ago, Robby and the children all became registered Choctaws with the Oklahoma tribe.  It was Robby's grandmother's family who were the Native Americans, but his grandmother had never registered herself.  Robby's mother registered herself and in turn so did Robby and all of my children.  Now, they joke with me all of the time telling me that I'm not "one of them", so when we decided to make this little trip to Oklahoma, I sort of felt like the "odd man out".

We arrived in Oklahoma the evening before we were to meet with some of the individuals there and stayed...at the tribe's casino.  I know what you may be thinking about Native Americans and casinos, but you may be surprised to know that this particular tribe does NOT give any of the money from the casino to its members (nope...we don't get a check).  Instead, their money goes to things such as, education.  And I am happy to say that my children have all been recipients of college scholarships from the tribe.  They also have education incentive programs set up for school age students that rewards them for good grades and perfect attendance.  I was actually quite impressed with what they call the "Choctaw Way" things are done.

Robby had spoken on the phone several times with Joy, the executive director of education of the tribe, and they had seemed to really hit it off.  Well, I always say that Robby never meets a stranger AND when he becomes involved with something, he gives it his all.  He appeared to really enjoy learning about his tribal heritage and wanted me to go along with him to meet everyone.  Robby went to an early morning meeting with Joy and then came back to the hotel to get Caitlin and me.  As we entered the building, a young man came down a stairway with a smile on his face and an outstretched hand as he said, "You must be the Rogenmoser family."  As we were introducing ourselves, Joy came around the corner and before Robby could finish introducing me, she reached out and gave me a great big old hug.  WOW!  Her name fit her perfectly; her "joyful" enthusiasm was overwhelming.  I already like "Robby's people"; they were so warm and welcoming.  Joy introduced us to an entire committee of individuals who work for the Choctaw Tribe.  They explained to us the work that they are doing and plan to do for the tribe and THAT is when I became hooked...I WANTED TO BE ONE OF THEM TOO!  The passion they exhibited for their people and heritage was admirable; even to the extent of a couple of them currently learning the Choctaw language from an elderly tribal member (hey...I KNOW how difficult it is to master ANY other language; remember my Rosetta Stone venture?).  As a matter of fact, I even mentioned that perhaps they could adopt me into the tribe...hmmm; they didn't exactly say no, but they didn't say yes either.  That didn't mean that I would give up on that...after all, I had just put the thought in their mind. Joy had also planned an even MORE impressive meeting for us while we were visiting; we were going to get to meet the CHIEF!

As we walked through the corridor that lead to the chief's office, I was instantly taken aback by the items displayed on tables and walls.  There was Native American artwork, artifacts of all sorts, pictures of tribal chiefs past and present and just so many historical items that told a story in and of itself of the Choctaw people.  While we were waiting for the chief to arrive, I browsed this gallery and became even a bit more envious that I wasn't a part of this group; something bigger than myself.  About that time, Chief Pyle arrived and was introduced to us and invited us into his office for a visit.

OK...so, I'm just saying...I couldn't have been more honored or excited to meet Chief Pyle.  I actually told Robby that I was more excited to meet him than I would have been to meet the President!  As we sat down, it was immediately obvious to me why this man is so respected and held with high esteem among the tribal members.  Robby receives the "Biskinik", the tribal newspaper, and I had seen his picture in it many times before, however, getting to put a personality to the photographs certainly completed the picture for me.   When speaking to Chief Pyle, one can see how he truly cares for the Choctaw people of Oklahoma and other Choctaw tribes around the country as well.  He sat and visited with Robby, Caitlin, Joy and me in an unrushed manner that spoke volumes; he had the time to give us and interest in what brought us there.

People often say that first impressions are important.  They generally set the tone for future relationships.  I tend to agree.  My first impression of the Oklahoma Tribe of Choctaws was AWESOME!  What a lovely group of caring individuals who have looked at their past to continue to build a very bright future for many other Choctaw Native Americans to come.  And although I am still not sure they will adopt me as a member of this special group, I am proud to be associated with them through my husband, children and grandchildren.
Robby, Caitlin and Chief Pyle

Robby and Chief Pyle

Want to find out more about the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma?  Go to their web site: http://www.choctawnation.com/   Look up the Jones Academy.  This is a wonderful school that provides such opportunity for Choctaw children.  If a donation is made to the school, the Choctaw Nation will MATCH that donation!
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Books I am Reading Or Have Read...

I am an avid reader.  There is never a time you will find me not in the middle of some novel.  Since people know that I always have a book (actually a Kindle Reader now...) in my hand, they quite often stop and ask me what I am reading, if I can recommend some good books for them to read or they recommend books for me to read.   Sometimes those books have been or are being turned into motion pictures and I definitely have one rule where that is concerned...READ THE BOOK FIRST!

I tell people to "read the book first" all of the time and I have never had anyone come back and tell me that the book wasn't better...actually they have told me quite the opposite.  Most times, I have read the book before viewing the movie and am very disappointed in the screenplay version.  So, when I heard that "Water for Elephants" was coming out at theatres, I hurried to finish the book.  Caitlin had actually called when she was in D.C. to recommend the book to me and I quickly added it to my Kindle.  So, when the advertisement came out indicating that the movie had been released, she waited patiently as I finished reading it. 

On Mother's Day evening, Robby, Caitlin and I all headed to the theatre to see the screen version of "Water for Elephants".  Set in The Great Depression Era, I will have to say that this movie turned out pretty good.  and for those who did not read the book, I'm sure that they were quite satisfied with the Hollywood version.  There were events that were out of order and some that were "Pure Hollywood" ( didn't even exist in the book...), and THIS is exactly why I would recommend reading the book even if you have already seen the movie.  I feel that a book takes one on a mental journey.  It allows individuals to have a glimpse into the inner most thoughts and relationships of the characters.  I realize that most of this information is omitted simply because of time restraints.  Just think for a moment about a piece of literature that was transformed into one of the greatest (in my opinion...) movies of all time:  "Gone With the Wind".  Now THAT movie was done right!  However, it IS about four hours long.  But in that four hour period, the characters were able to become very well developed, thus the viewer was able to become emotionally connected to the characters.

SO...would I recommend "Water for Elephants"?  ABSOLUTELY!  As I mentioned before, this book/movie is set in the Depression Era and it gives one a look at not only what life must have been like back then, but also what the life of a traveling circus worker was like.  Traveling by train from town to town, living on the road as a gypsy of sorts and the relationship that one man makes with the animals after his charmed life abruptly comes to an end.   Read the book first, if  possible, but if you've already seen the movie, so ahead and read the book; you will fall more in love with the characters (including Rosie, the elephant...) it is well worth your time! 

HAPPY READING!  I hope to return soon with lots more fun summer reading material to recommend for you!
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Having a "Play Day" Means The Schedule Sorta Goes Out The Window...

It was the day after my "Do Nothing Day" and I was having my morning cup of coffee; relaxing, but determined to NOT do nothing again today.  I was planning on going to the gym, fooling around in town, possibly catching an afternoon movie and then finishing up with an outdoor event downtown in the evening.  That's when the telephone rang.

Justin asked, "Hey...what are YOU doing today?"  I told him that I was about to head to the gym and cautiously asked, "Why?..."  It seemed that Sarah was not feeling well and Justin needed someone to watch Parker for the day and overnight.  "Well, go ahead...bring her on!", I said.  I told him to bring her to the office to Robby and I would pick her up from him there...and then I remembered that he had a haircut appointment scheduled and instead told Justin to take her there.  I would call and tell him that they were on their way.  I called and called and called and the office line remained busy for quite a while.  Finally, I sent a text message, explaining that Justin would be meeting him at the hair salon with Parker...he returned my call.  "Don't worry", I told him, "I will pick her up from you as soon as I get through at the gym."

I briefly spoke to Robby while I was working out and as I was hanging up the phone, he asked, "When will you be here?"  "By noon...gotta go now!"  I heard a sigh escape.  I KNEW he was capable of keeping this little 8 month old...no problem!  As I exited the gym and was opening my car door, I heard a horn honking...Robby was parked right next to me!  What was this?!  As he jumped out of his car, he explained that she was "all over the place"; crawling everywhere, she had tried to jerk the phone lines out of the wall, beat on his computer keyboard as he held her and picked up microscopic pieces of trash on the floor.  He decided that she needed to go for a car ride...and thus take a little nap.  As he transferred the car seat (with her strapped in it...) from his vehicle to mine, I asked where her bag was.  THAT is when he lifted his trunk to reveal not just "a" bag, but 2 bags, 2 lunch boxes, a bottle bag and a large box filled to the brim with toys...WOW!  "Did they send a stroller?"  Glancing at me, he said, "They didn't send crap!"  Well, I tended to disagree with THAT, however, I needed to get a stroller for my house any way; today would be as good a time as any to do that.  As he turned to hop back in his car, I asked where he was heading..."Back to the office...I need a break!", he said. 

I started to head home but then realized that the Merry Maids would be cleaning the house today, so I needed to buy a little time before heading there.  I had asked Sarah to send Parker's schedule and I noticed that we were running a little behind...it was already past her lunchtime.  I knew what we would do; we would stop somewhere for lunch.  Popping into one of my favorite lunch spots, I noticed that it was very busy, as usual.  Luckily I found a seat and proceeded to unpack Parker's baby food.  While feeding her, I phoned Robby and asked him to join us for lunch.  As we dined, our little darling could not have been more well behaved.  She was quite interested with all of the activity around her and everyone was so taken with her that they couldn't help but stop to talk to her or jiggle her chubby bare legs.  Lunch was a success, but we were still running behind her schedule; it was apparently now past nap time.

I would have headed straight home, but I knew that those Merry Maids needed just a little more time, so I decided to stop by a children's clothing store  next.  Pulling in, I just popped her out (well, not actually "popped" because that car seat is a bit difficult to unbuckle...) of her carseat and we went in to look at all of the pretty new spring and summer outfits.  Yep!  You guessed it...I couldn't resist and ended up buying a few items while I was there.  Parker began to rub her eyes and I figured that it had been long enough...I would head home.

Lucky for me that it takes a while to get home because THAT "cat nap" Parker took was the only one she was to get that afternoon. When Robby arrived home from work, I told him that I had "sorta" gotten off of the schedule.  "Oh well...we will just have to go with it now", he said.  I fed her dinner, put her pajamas on her and she was asleep and in bed by 7 p.m.  Unfortunately, I was once again off that darn schedule.  There was nothing I could do about it now.  What was I supposed to do anyway?...MAKE her stay awake?  Justin and Sarah told me that Parker would most likely wake up twice during the night, so I decided to put myself to bed earlier that usual to prepare myself for the lack of sleep I was in for.

Around 1:00 a.m.  it was Robby who woke me up instead of Parker.  He said, "I hear her crying".  "I don't hear anything", I replied.  I got up anyway...she was still asleep.  I was right; I hadn't heard anything.  Around 3 a.m., I woke up on my own.  Having not heard any crying, I snuck into Parker's room to find her still sound asleep.  Robby asked me if she was still sleeping..."Yes", I said.  "Are you sure she's breathing?"..."Yes".  "Did you see her body moving up and down?"..."No; I could HEAR her breathing."  We both went back to sleep.  At 6:30 a.m., Robby awoke for work.  I told him to go see if Parker was awake.  He came bringing her in to me, complete with a big smile on her face.

Later that day when we spoke to Justin and Sarah, we told them that Parker had slept for 11 1/2 hours that night.  "WHAT?!...Are you KIDDING?!...What did you do?  She NEVER sleeps through the night."  I was a bit reluctant to tell them since I knew that keeping a schedule is so important to them, but I finally admitted that I "sorta" got her off her schedule.  I'm not sure that, that convinced them that it was OK to break the schedule now and then...but hey, it sure worked out pretty good for me!
This sure is a LOT of stuff for an overnight stay!

Sweet Parker Ann...sporting a pair of new pajamas I bought at that children's shop!

Parker Ann and Poppi playing with a new toy.

Ahhh...there's NOTHING like having Parker Ann as an overnight guest at Ya-Ya's and Poppi's!
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It Was A Day Of Flowers, Chocolates, Flowers, Mamas, OH...and Flowers!

Mother's Day (and my 29th anniversary) turned out BEAUTIFULLY.  Although only two of my four children were able to share the day with me, it was still a good one.  Justin, Sarah and Parker Ann joined us and Caitlin had made it back from D.C....for good!  David is presently doing his ER rotation and those consist of 12 hour shifts, so it was impossible for him to make the trip home.  Ryan is finishing up his first year of dental school with finals, so it was also an impossibility for him to join us.  However, I did receive the "Happy Mother's Day" phone call from both of them and some lovely gifts.  I thought that today I would share MY special day with YOU in pictures.  I hope that all of you mothers out there had a GREAT day too and enjoy a peek of what my day was like!
Caitlin and Me...I'm SO happy that she is FINALLY home from D.C.  That's a present in itself!

My mother was able to enjoy the day with me too.  Isn't she still lovely at 83?

Robby's mother spent the day with us as well.

Robby's dad was on hand for the day too; enjoying the company of his great-grand daughter, Parker Ann.

Of course EVERYONE had fun playing with Parker Ann on her first Mother's Day to be in this world...



OH...and there were presents too!

Mam-Maw got a new Camellia bead for her bracelet and a beautiful designer Italian handbag.

Mimi also received a new bead for her bracelet as well and a Kindle Reader.

And me?...What did I get?

Since David couldn't be here, he sent me these beautiful flowers...AND


CHOCOLATES!

The other kids all went in together and got me this equipment that winds my yarn for knitting.

When I arrived to pick my mother up for the day, she had picked and arranged these flowers for me.  Notice the cute little vintage vase...it is in the shape of a purse!

My mother-in-law brought Robby and me flowers for our anniversary too!

My WONDERFUL husband, Robby, prepared a delicious lunch for all of us mothers!

Yes, it was a GREAT Mother's Day and anniversary.  I hope that all of you were able to enjoy the day as much as I did!


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Motherhood...A Lifetime Journey

This is Mother's Day weekend.  It is a special weekend for many of us as we celebrate it with our mothers.  Gifts and flowers are purchased to shower upon mothers, while restaurant reservations are made and menus are prepared to honor this most special person in our lives.  For those who no longer have their mother with them, it is a sad day, with feelings of nostalgia.  For those of us who do have our mothers to share the day with, we embrace that opportunity to show her how much we love and care for her for all she has sacrificed and done for us.

As a mother of 4 children, I can tell you that there is no other job in this world as important as being a mother.  A mother is the most important figure in a child's life for many years.  She teaches him/her all of the lessons in life they will need to not only survive, but be a thriving, productive human being.  However, children also teach us mothers some pretty important lessons too.

Before I was a mother, I mostly thought of "me".  How I could further "myself" and "my" causes.  Even when a person first marries, they are still to some extent a "me" person.  Sure, they now have a life partner to share everything with, but there is an amount of "me" that remains in the beginning.  Becoming a mother has an effect that occurs almost instantly.  I don't care what pro choice advocates may say; whenever a woman discovers that there is a life growing inside of her, she changes.  And as that child begins to form inside her "human incubator", so does her love and feelings of responsibility toward it grow stronger.  By the time the baby is born, wrapped in a warm blanket and placed in her arms...let's just say, "They had you at WAY before 'Hello"!

I realize that there are definitely difficult times ahead for mothers with their children.  I am not that much of a romantic to lead one to believe that there will not be trying times ahead.  And that is the one thing that puzzles many concerning motherhood.  No matter what your child does, your love for them will never change.  I have often heard men (including my own husband...) remark from time to time about mothers and their children.  They are astonished by the fact that we do not want ANYONE going against or saying anything negative against our children (even if it happens to be true...).  And that includes the dad!  That has been the most difficult thing for me; allowing Robby to interact and discipline the children in his own way.  Because HIS way, is not MY way; a mother's way.  It is my theory that God intended things to be that way.  His plan was for that tiny little baby growing inside a mother... attached to her very body by an umbilical cord and counting on HER for its very survival...to become "attached" to her like no other person they would ever be attached to in life.

As I looked at my own mother the other day, I realized how much she had physically changed over the years.  Oh, it wasn't the beautiful white  hair that she was sporting; she had had that for many years.  And it wasn't that her voice sounded any different.  It just seemed that one day I woke up and she was much older than I thought she would ever be.  She walked a little slower now, stooped over from her once regal height.  Her eye sight had waned over the years, causing her to no longer be able to drive. And although she still enjoyed her yard full of gorgeous flowers, she found herself no longer capable of working for hours, digging in the dirt.  This was a real reality check for me.  For the first time, I realized that my mother would not always be here with me and that one day I too would be spending Mother's Day without my mother present. 

So, as I prepare for this Mother's Day weekend, I don't necessarily think of "me" or what "I" want (a lesson taught to me by my children upon becoming a mother...), although I am a mother too.  It is a day for "our" mothers; mine and Robby's.  It is a day to honor and thank them for all they have done and continue to do for us.  The gifts have been purchased, the menu is being planned and Sunday will be a very special day for 2 very special people in our lives...OUR MOTHERS.  Happy Mother's Day!

My kids playing "Dress Up" when they were young.

My kids at our first house.

This picture was taken at church one Mother's Day many years ago.

Here's "Take 1" of attempting to get a picture of me with my kids!


"Take 2"...

"Take 3"...

"Take 4"...OK, so this is as good as it's gonna get!

Caitlin with my mom...Mam-Maw!

Caitlin with Robby's mom...Mimi!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ALL OF YOU MOTHERS OUT THERE!

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A Soul Mate...A Mate For Life

This week is a very busy week for me.  First, my youngest son's birthday is today and he turns 24 years old.  I can remember the day he was born like it was yesterday.  He was born on Mother's Day week and I always considered him my "Little Mother's Day Present".  That brings me to the next important event this week...Mother's Day.  And it just so happens that this year, Mother's Day actually falls on my anniversary.

None of these coinciding dates were planned or thought out; they just happened.  So, that makes May especially busy for me; not to mention when it's a year when one of the kids are graduating.  Anyway, I've been thinking about this year's anniversary; it's our 29th!  Yep, I find that I have now been married more years than I have not been married.  Some people might make this announcement with a little sigh or a giant eye roll, however; I do so with a smile on my face.

Robby and I got married at a VERY young age.  As a matter of fact, we would NEVER have let our own children do what we did.  Isn't that funny?  Parents are always wanting things to be different, better for their own offspring?  Well, perhaps not "better", per se, but easier.  I say this because, although, this ride called "marriage" has not always been perfect...it's been pretty darn close and also quite fantastic!

We're always saying that we both married our "soul mates" and how fortunate we are.  That's what makes me attempt to explain to people exactly WHAT a "soul mate" is.  You see, Robby and I find that we are best friends and that is one of the keys to finding your "soul mate".  Being happy and content in one's marriage does not mean that there are never arguments or disagreements; those things (and the way a couple resolves them...) are very important aspects of marriage.  When one has found their "soul mate", they actually enjoy being with that person and doing things together.  What sort of things?...ANYTHING.  That's the thing about a "soul mate" relationship; over the years, each person loves the other so much, that they automatically enjoy doing things that the other person does.  Some of you may be wondering HOW that could possibly be...it's because of the loss of selfishness.  When one truly finds someone they love and adore, selfishness goes out the window.  The other person's happiness is more important to you than your own happiness.

A "soul mate" is a rare find.  Often times, people find themselves disenchanted with their marriage and life in general.  That is why I have tried to impress upon my own children (and anyone else who asks...)how important it is to WAIT for that right person to come along.  Believe me...they are out there and worth waiting for.  On the other hand, I must also advise to NOT WAIT when you find them.  If you DO find your "soul mate", don't let them slip away.  You will be losing them and quite possibly the BEST life you could ever dream of living.  And once all of the kids have left home and it's just the two of you left, you will be glad and happy and content that you married your "soul mate"...your one true love that there will never be anyone else like in your life.  I am so very happy that I married MINE!  Happy 29th Anniversary this week, Robby!
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What Does One DO On A Do NOTHING Day?

I decided that I was going to declare the day a "Do Nothing Day".  It sounded like a good idea at the time.  The original plan was to go to our lake house and "do nothing" the following day.  Those plans were thwarted when a tornado ripped through there, wiping out trees, homes and electricity.  So, waking up at home, I decided to stick with my plan...I would do "nothing" that day.

Once I had set my mind to doing "nothing" for the day, I got out of bed, reached for a cup of coffee and took my laptop back to bed.  I sat there for quite a while just surfing the Internet (and preparing new blog posts, of course...) and watching television.  I glanced over at the clock on my bedside table and was tempted to throw on some work out clothes and head off to the gym...BUT I had decided "Do Nothing" meant exactly THAT....NOTHING.  So, I got up out of bed and headed for the living room.  Hmmm...What to do, what to do???  Whenever someone takes a day off, they usually spend it "doing" something else; such as, running errands, working in the yard, cleaning house.  I was determined NOT to do any of those things on this "Do Nothing Day".  I grabbed my knitting.  That was a "hobby", so technically I could knit for a while.

While knitting, I decided that today might be a good day to catch up on my DVR recordings.  So, as I knitted, I watched some televisions shows that I had taped.  Although those things were fun and relaxing, I was finding that it was quite difficult to do "nothing at all".  It seemed like I should be "multi-tasking".  Today would even be a great day to take that nap that I'm always wanting, but I didn't even seem to be tired today (sigh...).  I knew what I would do...I would read for a bit!

I love to read and absolutely ALWAYS have a book that I'm reading.  I usually read on my Kindle, but the Kindle App is also on Robby's i-pad and I read on it at night since it's back lit.  I grabbed the i-pad and began to read "Water for Elephants".  Then, the obvious happened.  You see, when I read using the i-pad, I often times get distracted (because it IS a computer...) and start playing with the apps on it.  And THAT'S exactly what I did.  Before I knew it, I was back on the Internet looking for Mother's Day gifts.  I have to admit that, that was an excellent idea; I was able to order one!  Now...back to thinking of what I could DO that was actually doing NOTHING...

Oh, I DID end up doing a few menial chores; making the bed, loading the dishwasher and throwing a few clothes in the washer.  However, all in all (difficult as it was...), I was pretty successful in "doing nothing".  And just about that time, my cell phone rang.  I love Caller ID, because if you don't recognize the number, you can just let them leave a voice mail and listen to it later.  That's just what I did.  Dialing up my voice mail almost immediately, I found that it was the publisher that is trying to publish a children's book that I am currently working on.  Hmmm...He most likely wouldn't understand the "Do Nothing Day"; I wouldn't call him back just yet.  But although I had decided not to return his call right away, I couldn't help thinking about that unfinished rough draft laying over on the counter.  I would just pick it up and read over it for a minute.  OK...so there were a few things I could add to it.  I quickly did this and put it back down; after all, I was almost finished with it...it could wait one more day.

When Robby arrived home that evening, I toyed with idea of asking him if we could go out to eat.  BUT, then I decided that I had stayed home all day and done "nothing", why go out now and ruin it by having to "do something"...like getting dressed (I HAD stayed in my pajamas past noon today...) and putting on make-up and then getting in the car and driving to town to eat.  NO!  We would just stay home, cook and watch a little TV.

Well, by the end of my "Do Nothing Day", I had come to a conclusion of sorts.  I NEED to be doing SOMETHING every day!  Oh, I know that it is important to take a day off here and there, but taking a day off from "work" does not necessarily mean that one has to do "nothing".  Sometime doing a few little things that you enjoy counts for more than doing nothing at all.  So, the next time that I decided to have a "Do Nothing Day"...I'm going to plan to "Do Something" I really enjoy!
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