What In The WORLD Was I Thinking?!

As I crawled across the floor on my hands and knees last night, I wondered..."WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING?!"  When I had complained so loudly after losing 14 pounds that I felt like I still "needed" to get rid of 8 more.  When my husband's (aka:  Conan the Barbarian) ears perked up and an "idea" was born.  WHY, OH WHY had I agreed to do this thing to my very own body?!

After pondering these questions I posed to myself, I remembered the answer:  Wedding pictures (blame it on the wedding again...); they live on FOREVER and well,,,nobody wants to look at those pictures over the years and think, "Look how big my hips look" or "Is that flab hanging under my arms?"  And then there was the fact that my annual beach trip to Miami was coming up in March and, although I have never gotten up the courage to either take my top off or wear a thong on South Beach, I had NO intentions of giving up my bikini yet.  And so I made a deal with my hubby...one that I am now wondering if I will truly even SURVIVE to put that bikini on...

As I was napping on Sunday afternoon, Robby was researching.  We had made a trip to the bookstore on Saturday and he had returned with a couple of books...and a fitness magazine.  When I was taking our purchases out of the bag, I held that magazine up and said, "Is this yours?"  He nodded with this little smirk on his face. Hmmm...Little did I know that, that magazine would inspire him to create a "fitness plan" for me.  So, when I woke up from my nap and Parker Ann went home, I noticed that he was still furiously scribbling on paper, while moving from page to page on the Internet.  When I asked what he was doing, he informed me that the new Apple computer he had given me for my birthday had a whole fitness workout program on it...and he had just put our information in to create personalized work-out plans for us that we would officially begin Monday.  WHAT?!..."Our?"  Did this mean that BOTH of us would begin weight training in 24 hours?

Several months ago, Robby enlisted the help of a neighbor to turn part of our outside storage building into a home gym.  It is complete with cardio equipment, free weights, a weight machine, abdominal machines, television, CD system and a mirror that covers one entire wall.  Up until now, I have been the only occasional user of this gym.  Of course, I only like to hop on the elliptical machine or work on my abs, while watching taped episodes of all the "Housewives" shows.  It has been a while since I did any type of weight training at all and well...I really wasn't that interested in doing it again.  However, when Robby called a nutritionist that we have access to, he suggested that I start eating a very high protein diet...and begin weight training (Ugh...to both to those things) to lose that extra fat.

When Monday came around, Robby bounded into the house after work carrying a bag from GNC, full of things I had not only never seen, I certainly had never put those things in my body before!  But, HEY!  I guess I would be willing to try this.  Little did I know what all it would entail.  Robby told me to go get into some work-out clothes, while he mixed one of those concoctions up.  As we headed out to the gym, he said, "Drink this while you work out."  It looked like water, but tasted tart.  "What is this?", I asked.  He explained that it was Amino Acid (whatever that is...).  After tasting it, I wrinkled up my nose, sure that I would not be able to finish it off.  However, once Conan got started barking orders and I began sweating, I found myself running over to grab that bottle just to quench my thirst!

If you are anything like me, I have this little problem with Day 1 of any exercise program I start.  I jump in and really bust it, in my over zealous state; ready to prove to myself that I am capable of "getting the job done".  Well, what I ALWAYS forget, is the way I will feel the next day.  When I awoke the next morning, I was sore.  And as the day continued, I became even more sore.  And by the time Robby came into the house to start on Day 2 of our work-out regimen, I was shuffling my feet across the floor.  He once again instructed me to change and get ready for our work-out, while he prepared that tasty, acid drink that I would be belching until I retired for the evening (sigh...).

As we headed outside, Robby glanced over and snickering asked, "Why are you walking that way?"  HMPH!  "Ummm...Let's see; because I can BARELY MOVE MY LEGS!?"  I think he called me a "sissy" or something and I said, "Call me names...I AM one; you can't hurt my feelings."  He told me to get down on the floor so he could stretch me out before we began and I looked at the floor, thinking, "Now, how am I going to get down there...and more importantly, up again?"  I eased down on my knees and rolled around until I got situated.  When he began to stretch my legs, I thought about screaming (OK...well, I DID moan quite loudly). From there, I just basically attempted to get through each phase of "the plan".  Once we finished and I was once again stretched out, we headed back inside to eat dinner.  The only problem was...I wasn't' sure how I was going to eat a lot of protein or even food for that matter.  I jumped in the shower and when I entered the kitchen, Robby handed me a chocolate protein drink.  I looked at it and said, "I'm supposed to drink this AND eat dinner?!"(sigh...).  I was a child sitting at the table drinking my milk once again.  Yep!  I was the one who drug out drinking one glass of milk for about 30 minutes (or until the adults just gave up...).  And, by the way, whoever told you that "chocolate" was good in any form was lying!  Obviously they never drank one of those protein shakes before...

Robby and I sat there watching television before retiring to bed for the evening (because basically it required no movement...).  He got up and walked into the kitchen for something (ice cream, I think...) and that's when I noticed it; that grimace on his face and slight moan.  I finally smiled as I asked, "Sore?"  He nodded in the affirmative as I said, "Good!...Because if there was one place that wasn't sore on ME before tonight's work-out, it is now; it even hurts to breathe."  We both eventually shuffled off to bed and just before my eyes closed, I murmured, "I hope you hurt as much as I do when you wake up in the morning..."  Again, I wondered, "WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING?!"  Oh yea...BIKINI, WEDDING, BIKINI! (sigh...)


Just Like Being A Young Mom...MINUS The "Young" Part...

I am happy to announced that I SURVIVED!  I wondered for a while if I would.  I kept my grand daughter, Parker Ann, for 6 DAYS IN A ROW this past week!  When my sister called on her way to work one morning, I told her that I had been up since 6 a.m. working around the house.  Puzzled, she asked, "Why in the world would you do that?!"  I explained that I was trying to get caught up on everything before Parker arrived for the day because she would NEVER allow me to do such things as, washing the clothes, making the beds or cleaning the dishes.  She thought about that for a minute and replied, "Yea...It's just like being a young mother again."  When I failed to say anything, she added, "Well, minus the 'young' part..."

There was a day when I had four little ones of my own, aged 6 and under.  I was a stay at home mom and  to tell you the truth, I'm not sure how I did it.  Perhaps it was youth and the fact that my hormones were not exiting my body at an alarming rate.  And those years apparently caused a bit of amnesia, I'm afraid too.  I seemed to have forgotten how much attention an 18 month old requires.  Well, "my" answer to that problem back in my "Mommy Days" was having help.  Not the type of help you may be thinking; I was using "child labor".  Yep!  The older kids helped me watch and keep the others occupied, while I could at least keep our underwear clean.  And THAT was precisely what my problem was going to be this week.  But WAIT!...I DID have "help"; Ryan was home from dental school for the week on his Mardi Gras break!  YES!!!  I would resort to "child labor" again.  I just might make it after all.

The first two days, Parker only spent the entire day with us, so we were able to sort of recoup over night.  Thursday through Sunday afternoon, however, was overnight.  OK, so we would take this thing one day at a time...REALLY; how hard could it be to take care of one little girl?!  As soon as Justin and Sarah dropped her off, we got busy playing outside.  The weather here in the south gave us a wonderful gift of temperatures in the 70's and 80's and we were definitely going to take advantage of it.  Pulling out some sidewalk chalk, Parker experimented, scribbling all over the sidewalk...and then rubbing in on her face as well!  Hopping in her car, she also posed for a few candids...

Day one found us celebrating Fat Tuesday by visiting our local zoo.  Parker had never been to the zoo before and she seemed to LOVE it.

The end of the day found us truly exhausted and thankful that Parker's bedtime was at 7:30.  Ryan, who is only 24, said he had to admit that Parker had totally worn him out. We both collapsed on the couches while planning the events for the following day...

Day two found us visiting a restaurant that I'm SURE I hadn't been to since my own children were in elementary school; Chuck E. Cheese.  I wasn't sure how Parker would like all of the noise I had remembered from past days, but she was so excited to be there we could barely get her to eat the pizza we had ordered for lunch.

Worn out from having so much fun, we all returned home to take a little nap. Oh, by the way...I really love nap time!  There was no way I was going to catch up on house work during this time; it was used purely to recharge MY battery!

The rest of the weekend found us  making a visit to the bookstore...

Making some music...

Sharing snacks with the dogs...

And going to church on Sunday...

It was late Sunday afternoon when Justin and Sarah rolled in looking all relaxed from their anniversary trip to New Orleans.  We had a wonderful time with Parker Ann, but I suddenly gained so much respect for all of the stay at home moms out there.  How in the world did they do it?...How had I done it?  And those who write blogs about their adventures in motherhood...well, my hat is REALLY off to you!  It had only been about 30 minutes since the kids had pulled out of the driveway and I was sitting on the couch knitting, while Robby sat in his chair surfing the Internet.  I said, "Do you hear that?"  He stopped typing for just a minute, turning his head to the side to listen and said, "I don't hear anything."  Smiling, I said, "Exactly...it's the sound of silence."


Oh, Simba...You Were OUR "Marley"

Ryan (my youngest son...) has been in town this entire week.  Since he attends dental school in New Orleans and this is Mardi Gras week, they let them out of school for the entire week, due to the high volume of visitors to the city.  I always look forward to this week that I get to spend with my "Baby Boy".  When Ryan is around the house, we just do whatever fun thing comes our way and one of the things we really enjoy doing is watching movies.  We have visited the theater and the other day we actually spent the whole afternoon watching three movies, back to back.  The first two were lighthearted, the third was one I had never intended on viewing again; "Marley & Me".

After seeing "Marley & Me" when it originally came out at the theatre was enough for me, however, Ryan told me that he had never seen it before and I insisted that it was one he could not miss.  You see, we also had a yellow lab when the children were growing up; a yellow lab who very much reminded me of Marley...his name was Simba.

I can still remember the day Robby brought Simba home.  I'm not sure I even knew he was buying a dog that day since I already had a little poodle at the time.  But from the moment he sat that little puppie's feet on the floor and he barreled across it full force, sliding around, Simba was an intricate part of our family.  I was given the task of naming him and quickly chose the name Simba with ease.  "The Lion King" had recently come out and that yellow, chubby little ball of energy resembled the star of that show so much, that the name stuck.

Simba was not unlike Marley at all; tearing up any and everything that lay in his path.  At first, we put him in our backyard, where he promptly ate all of the screens off of the windows, chewed the swimming pool rope in half and dug up most of my flower beds.  Standing with hands on hips, tapping my foot, I declared, "Robby!  This dog MUST have his own space...BUILD ONE!"  Instead, he decided that he needed school.  I must say that Simba was the most well-educated dog there has probably ever been.  He was Robby's duck hunting dog and he excelled in his doggy studies, staying with the trainer for weeks at a time.  However, his path of destruction continued...

It wasn't long before we moved to another house and Robby did just that.  Simba had his own house, enclosed in a large pen.  Oh, it was a pen where he could see everything that was going and that just made him more determined to escape.  It can only be called "escape" since I have never known a dog who could actually dig a three foot tunnel UNDER a fence to...well, "escape"!  It was difficult keeping him in there and many days, I would just relent and allow him to run free.  The only problem with that was the fact that we lived on a golf course. Let's just say, the golfers knew him by name.  Simba would patiently sit on the green just in front of our house, wagging his tail while the golfers swung away.  And as their balls would slowly approach the hole...Simba would snatch them up and take off running!  Other than scream his name as they attempted to salvage a golf ball, I never got many knocks on my door; with one exception, however.  One day I DID receive a knock and peeking out the window saw that it was indeed a golfer, I held my breath for the chewing out I was surely about to get.  Opening the door, I found something else.  The man started out by telling me that Simba had once again lay in wait on the green, snatched a ball and THEN...he was afraid he swallowed it!  I was thankful that he seemed more concerned about Simba than his golf ball and thanked him for telling me about the incident.  After calling the vet, he determined that we should do an x-ray to see if there was a golf ball rolling around inside our lab's tummy.  When the vet came out to let us know what he found, he began the conversation like this:  "I don't think that one golf ball would hurt him too bad, but since I also found another glowing one sitting in there beside that one, I suggest we just go in and remove both of them."  WOW, Simba...Way to go!

The years passed and as the kids grew older, Simba grew older right along with them.  He swam in the pool with us in the summer and David was known to sneak him upstairs to his room during the cold winter nights.  They would bring him giant sized doggie breath mints, cave men sized bones to chew on and on occasion a new bed...which would be destroyed in less than 60 seconds.  Simba continued to have that "roaming spirit" and when he decided to let it overtake him, it usually cost us more than a verbal thrashing from the neighbors.  Once, there was a female dog across the entire golf course in the adjoining neighborhood who was in heat.  Simba made his way right to her kennel and sat there barking and pawing the ground.  They called us to come pick up their dog's unwanted suitor, but simply putting the "Escape Artist" back in his own pen did not work.  After the second call, we decided that we would just tie a small boat anchor to the end of his leash so if (when...) he got out again, he would never be able to make it to the other neighborhood again.  WRONG ANSWER...We found the anchor in the middle of the golf cart path the next morning right around the time we got the call that Simba had chewed up all of their water hoses and knocked more things over trying to get to that female dog's attention! (sigh...)  We paid the bill.

We moved once again.  Two of the children had gone off to college and although Simba was getting older, we decided he needed his own space.  We put the sturdy old house out back and built him another pen.  It wasn't long, however, that Robby decided that he had settled down enough to just allow him to wander around the property; we lived further out in the country, after all...what could he hurt?  To our surprise, he actually stayed around the carport, front stoop and Robby's workshop.  In his old age, I noticed the he no long got around as well, limping as he walked.  The only exception to that was when he heard the UPS or Fed-Ex trucks coming down the road.  He would jump up barking and chase them across our front yard.  Most nights found him snuggled up sleeping with our cat, Clementine.

As Simba aged, so did his once virile body.  His eyesight became poor as did his hearing.  He became a fixture at my carport door.  He was the guard that I knew would be there when I went to sleep at night and awoke in the morning.  During his last year, he was no longer able to get into the pool and swim around with us on hot summer days, but we would put him on the steps to cool off.  In the evenings when Robby and I would be in the hot tub, his hearing was acute enough to meander around and sit beside it, waiting on us to get out.  Simba was 14 years old and I knew that the day would soon arrive when he would no longer be with us, but in my usual manner, I chose "Not to think about that right then".  When we went to see the movie, "Marley and Me", there was not a dry eye in the theatre.  Sniffling was the only sound that could be heard.  I glanced over at my big old (teddy) bear of a husband and he was in tears as well.  Looking straight at me he said, "When the time comes to put Simba down, you will have to do it; I will never be able to."

I remember the day it happened.  We came home and Simba was not laying at the carport door.  Robby walked out to his shop and found the old boy.  He couldn't get up on his feet.  Coming back to the house, Robby asked me to look at his leg.  The summer before he had survived a snake bite that I had treated him for.  I took a look at the leg and thought that could possibly be the problem, so Robby and Ryan picked that 80 pound yellow-grayed grand daddy up and loaded him in the truck for a trip to the Animal Emergency Care Center.  When the young veterinarian  came out, I knew the new was going to be grim.  Simba had a broken leg.  He suggested putting him down since he was so old and his arthritis was so bad.  All eyes turned to me as I said, "NO!...NOT TONIGHT!"  Ryan was the only reasonable one, stating that Simba had, had a good life and I wouldn't want him to suffer.  Of course, I didn't want him to suffer, but I wasn't ready to give him up yet, either!  In the end, they put him on an IV for the night and I told them I would take him to our vet in the morning; I would do whatever he suggested I do.

Our vet took one look at Simba and told us that his bones were not strong enough for the procedure they would have to do on the hip and leg.  He also said he wasn't sure that he could even survive the surgery at his age.  He had known Simba since we got him and been a friend of ours for many years.  "Simba has lived a long, good life; it's just his time." My heart sunk.  Robby instructed them to keep him comfortable until everybody who wanted to, could make a trip down there to say their good-byes.  I had said mine the night before and could not bear to look into his eyes again.  David was in town and decided to go down there.  Preparing to be a physician, himself, he found himself sobbing at the thought of losing this family pet.  He called his dad and asked, "How can you look in his eyes and do this?!"  It was a very sad and tearful day for all.

When I eventually emerged from the house, red-eyed, long enough to get the mail that day, I was stopped by a neighbor I did not even know.  She ask, "Where is Marley?  I haven't seen him in a while.  Oh, I know his name isn't Marley, but he sure looks like him."  My eyes began to well up as I told her what had happened.  This lady, whom I didn't even know also began to cry.  As the weeks and months passed, each person who visited my house on any regular basis at all, asked the same question; the UPS driver, who told the story of making friends with him by bringing him treats, the lawn service people, whom he followed around to make sure they were doing their job properly, even the guy from the cleaners, who was accompanied by Simba to pick up and deliver our laundry each week.  It seemed as though Simba had made many friends while here on this earth.  People who aren't animal lovers don't understand us.  They do not understand how these little creatures can wiggle and squirm their ways into our hearts, lives and families.  But I know this one thing...Simba WAS "our" Marley.  He was a free-spirited, vivacious member of this family.  I still miss hearing him breathe deeply as I step over his napping body on my carport door step.  We loved Simba...OUR "Marley".

Once Upon A Time, I Considered "Wedding Planning" To Be A Lot Like A Science Fair Project...

When my oldest son was in junior high school, he came home with the thing I had heard about for years and sat dreading..."The Science Fair Project".  I didn't remember ever having to do one of my own, but HEY!  I was about to graduate from college as a teacher...SURELY I was capable of doing a junior high project!

Well, as I began to read the requirements for completing that science fair project, it became increasingly clear that perhaps I wasn't qualified to do one of those things.  Determined to pick his own topic (against my better judgment...), he chose something relating to electricity; PERFECT!  My husband could help him with it.  Then, as I read a little further, I noticed that a paper also had to be written about the subject matter...and TYPED IN PROPER TERM PAPER FORM!  WHAT THE HECK WERE THESE PEOPLE THINKING?!  This was before they made typing a requirement for students...How in the world was my son supposed to not only KNOW what the proper format was, but if he didn't know HOW to type, how long could it possibly take him to type it?!  Well, I now knew what MY task would be in regards to "The Dreaded Science Fair Project" (ugh...).

I learned my lesson from that first science fair project and the other three children were required to do a project of MY choosing.  I taught school at that time and a science lesson that I taught well was on spiders.  I told them that their project would be on spiders and I would teach them everything they needed to know about spiders to be able to make the presentation.  The paper was written with the initiation of the "spider project" and a board was created.  It won first place!  In our excitement, I deemed that "spiders" would forevermore be our family's "official" science fair project.  And so it was that when the next two children were given their assignment for science fair, they also chose "spiders".  The paper was the same; all they changed was the board.  And "we" continued to receive first place ribbons.  How easy was that?! Just get a system and go with it!

Up until now, my wedding planning skills were much like that science fair project thing I had going on.  I had married off two boys first and it could not have been easier.  I really didn't even have to do anything very far ahead of time, except secure a location for the rehearsal dinner.  About a month before the wedding, I would print up an invitation to the rehearsal dinner, plan the menu and decorate the venue the day of the dinner.  The second son's dinner was planned in "exactly" the same manner; I even copied the same invitation, just changed the names on it and the color.  I was in NO WAY prepared for the planning of Caitlin's wedding and I must admit that it had quite become a lot like having a J-O-B!  I awake each day( and sometimes at night...) with a new "wedding task" that awaits my attention.  My natural sense of procrastination has not worked well for me since there are time lines that must be met and projects that must be completed.  The "easy" days of just reprinting the same invitation are over (until Ryan's wedding one day...).  Caitlin has created her own three-part invitation that once printed she intends to brush gold paint on each (of the 257...) invitation.  Then after the paint has dried, they will be tied together with small pieces of burlap.  Obviously NOT a "quick and easy" task.  Yes, they will be unique and beautiful, but this is nothing that can be done in a day's time.  I'm actually thinking of making a weekend of it, inviting some people over and having an "invitation party"!  My ideas is to create an assembly line, where there will be a person who can run the printer (not me...) to address everything, a couple who can work on tying the three pieces together, another couple to stuff the envelopes and someone else to stamp them.  Hmmm...what do ya think?!  Personally, I think it would be well worth the time and trouble to fix some food and drinks for a few people to knock these things out in a weekend!

No, I have found that wedding planning as the mother-of-the-bride is definitely NOT like the "science" of wedding planning as the mother-of-the-groom.  I cannot even imagine what my friends who have numerous daughters must go through; I'm sure each want their "own" themes and designs.  I now appreciate the fact that I will finish up my wedding planning days with another son.  I will be able to go back to the familiar....to the days of the "science fair" planning...and I will sit back and leisurely enjoy the process as I procrastinate my way through it!



It was what I had officially dubbed "My Birthday Week" and I planned on doing a little something every day up until that big 48 (aka...50; considering I'm now subtracting a year).  Robby and I took in a couple of movies during the week, dined out and I even participated in a little "Retail Therapy", purchasing myself a few things.  However, toward the end of the week, I decided to venture out and do some...well, DANCING!

Robby and I had just gone to the movie the day before and my spirits lifted a bit as the guy taking our money for the tickets asked to see my ID.  Hmmm...I'm pretty sure THAT has never happened before in my life.  I glanced over my shoulder to find Robby rolling his eyes and saying, "I slipped him a few bucks to say that; as an early birthday present."  I turned back around to take my tickets and thought to myself, "I don't care".  Whatever the reason for asking for my ID was, I "felt" a little younger and so I suppose that is what may have inspired me to take on a couple of new activities in the days to come.

I had been at the gym for my usual yoga class when I noticed something new on the schedule; a jazz dance class.  I noted that it would be the following morning and decided, WHAT THE HECK?!  I showed up for the class, thinking that I would not overdo it (REALLY...When was the last time I had DANCED...for an HOUR?!).  If I got tired, I would just leave.  With that thought in my mind, the music suddenly started and I found myself enjoying this dance class more than I though I would!  And THAT is what prompted me to attend yet ANOTHER dance class the following morning; Tap dance.  YEA...I didn't realize at the time that I was biting off more than I could chew!

Now, in the past, I have loved a challenge where exercise classes are concerned.  Learning something new is always fun.  HEY!  I even talked Robby into going to salsa lessons with me at one time.  So, I tied up the tap shoes on my feet that I had purchased (If you tap...you MUST have tap shoes!) and then immediately hoped that I didn't slip and bust my behind in them; they're pretty slick!  As I looked around the room, most everybody was older than me...SURELY I could do this if they could (somehow forgetting that I had NEVER tapped before in my life!)  Well, I quickly found that deciding you are going to tap and doing it are 2 totally different things...

I enjoyed the warm-up and drills, where each step was explained and taken more slowly, but WOW...When we were required to put it all together, I often times looked like that child in the dance recital who just stands amongst her peers, watching their feet and not moving, herself.  Half way through the class, I pulled my wrap off because I was beginning to sweat profusely and I realized that perhaps my neckline was a bit too plunging for this group of ladies...OH, WHO CARED; I was literally catching fire, they would just have to indulge me this time. After all, we ALL had boobies!

One bottle of water was barely enough to make it through that class and by the end, those sweet ladies were telling me how well I had done (they were kind...and I suppose the boobies didn't offend them too much after all).  I must admit that I was a little weary (OK...I had hit the wall and it was only 11 a.m.).  I was glad that my yoga class was next.  I pulled out my mat and laid down on it like a young child, until the instructor arrived.  WHEW...What in the world had I been thinking?  Did I think "Dancing" into the next decade of my life would be a breeze?!  Well, it may not have been that easy...but it SURE WAS FUN!  Now, on to finish up the tail end of this "Birthday Week" of mine.  The kids have made their way in and Robby has planned to take us out for dinner tonight.  Just 24 more hours for me to relinquish my 40's...Still not sure I'm gonna do it!


Please...Just Don't Come Back Saying, "You Guys"

I'm not psychic or anything, but I just knew this was going to happen.  You see, Kevin, Caitlin's fiance', was due to find out where he would be doing his residency after his graduation from medical school in May.  David, who will also graduate in May, was pretty confident that he would stay in the south somewhere and that made me happy.  But I have just had this sinking feeling that Kevin would end up in Ohio.  OHIO???  OH MY GOSH!...I can't really even tell you where that is exactly located on the map.  And isn't it cold there in the winter...and don't they say things like, "You Guys" (sigh...)

Although I kept thinking, Ohio...Ohio...Ohio...I never "really" let it sink in.  That is until a few days ago, Robby reminded me that the match day was coming up this week.  He asked me if I was going to cry when I found out that my daughter would most likely be moving away to Ohio (he had the same feeling as I...).  "Of course not!", I said with fervor.  "I'll just go there to see her...when I find out exactly where it's located, that is."  He then told me if I got in my car it would take 2 days to get there.  2 DAYS?!  WHAT???  And I suppose THAT'S when it began to sink in...  "Well, she just better not start saying 'You Guys' instead of 'Y'all'!  She CANNOT lose her 'southern heritage'...or accent!"

If I thought one semester in Washington, D.C. was difficult, 5 YEARS in Ohio could quite possibly be unbearable.  That is no short distance and I then began to think about the possibility of her getting pregnant and having children while she was there.  Not only would I not be able to share in her journey through pregnancy, but I would very seldom be able to see those children; unlike my good fortune to get to see Parker Ann two or three days a week.  OK..."ENOUGH!", I told myself.  "Be like Scarlett...Think about this another day."  Well, another day came a day sooner that I had thought it would.

The phone rang around 8 a.m.  As I glanced at the caller ID, I noticed that it was Caitlin calling.  Thinking it was a bit early for a call from her, I did not expect the news she had to impart this early on a Monday morning.  She had received a call from Kevin who had found out where his residency would be.  "WAIT A MINUTE!...I thought he wouldn't find out for another day", I stated in a strained voice.  I NEEDED another day to "not think about it!"  Too late...  She confirmed what I already knew in my heart...OHIO, it was.  He had received a double residency in Internal Medicine and Emergency Care in Cleveland, Ohio.

So, did tears come into my eyes?  They started to, but I just couldn't go there right now.  I had too much to accomplish this week.  And this was only Monday (I knew I never liked Mondays for a reason...).  I suppose the first thing I should do is find a map so I can locate this place called Ohio.  Google the weather there and find out what sort of things there are to do.  I guess it wouldn't be a bad idea to start saving up all the points from my credit card too, since I'm sure I will be flying there quite frequently.  Oh well...I sure hope you like "Mudder-in-Law", Kev.!  Cause you will will be getting to spend quite a bit of "quality time" with her over the NEXT 5 YEARS in this place called, OHIO!...So my daughter doesn't forget how to say "Y'all" with that southern drawl of hers...

What Does This Holiday With Reds And Pinks And Hearts Mean To YOU?

Here in "Da Boot", Valentine's Day gets shoved out of the way a bit, due to our statewide holiday...Mardi Gras.  While other areas are inundated with pinks and reds and school children cutting out paper hearts and purchasing candy, Louisiana is covered in purple, green and gold with our residents consuming King Cakes as quickly as they are placed on the shelf.  However, just like other women around the country, we women of the south are not about to forget about this holiday of love...so what's it all about and what does it mean to you?

There are several reasons that Valentine's Day has always had my heart.  First, it falls only five days prior to my birthday and when I was growing up, my mother would always make me a heart-shaped, strawberry filled pink cake to celebrate each year, staying in theme for the month.  I rarely had a boyfriend during my adolescent years, so getting flowers, candy or trinkets of any sort was not in the picture.  However, my step-father always made up for that by buying my mother a big old box of chocolates the size of the kitchen table...which I promptly poked my finger into the bottom of each piece to see what flavor it was.  Anyway, over the years, this holiday, sugar-coated and pink, has come to mean many different things to me.

Robby and my first date back in high school was on Valentine's Day.  It was traditional for local churches to hold what we called, Valentine's Day Banquets for the high schoolers.  These banquets would be decorated like cozy bistros and would include a meal and entertainment.  One could purchase tickets to reserve their tables and it was much more affordable than attempting to eat out at a restarant.  Once we married, the holiday took on another face...the one that had kids on it.  Having four children meant four school parties each year.  So, cookies, candy and Valentine cards it was!  And Robby and me?...Well, there was at least always a card.

As the children got older and one by one moved off to college or got married, Valentine's Day did not (and does not...) forget them.  Goodies of some sort always find their way across the country to remind them that they are loved.  As for Robby and me, we usually don't attempt to fight the crowd to go out to dinner.  One year, we made home made pizza and shared a bottle of wine, while watching a movie at home.  Last year it was a picnic in the park in New Orleans.  OH...and there is still always a card.

What will this year bring?  It will surely bring the kids that traditional sweet surprise.  As for me and my love...well, one thing's for sure, it will bring the most important thing of all; the opportunity to set aside a special day to tell each other how much we mean to each other EVERY day.

                                                              HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!


Please Don't Be "One Of Those Parents"...

It is innate to always want to protect your children, to believe everything they say, to take their side before actually getting all of the information first.  I know these things because I am a mom; I've been one for 28 years.  I suppose that is why it takes a while to reprogram one's mind to take in the truth that your children are in fact not perfect.

When that first child is born, parents sit and just stare at the beauty and innocence of that tiny little wonder. How precious...how sweet...how long will it be before they become a "Real" child?  OK... I realize that may sound like a line from Pinocchio, but that's the way those of us who have or have had many children think sometimes.  I can still recall a dinner party with some friends that Robby and I were attending when Caitlin was a freshman in high school.  Now, all of her friends were the oldest in their respective families; she was the youngest.  We had already been through three teenage boys and knew exactly what teenagers were capable of; even good ones.  So, when the subject of our teenagers came up and knowing how to determine if they were telling us the truth, one mom stated that it was her theory, "To believe in their innocence until they give you a reason to believe they are guilty."  Robby barely let those words hang in the air before he voiced his own theory..."If their mouth is open, they are lying."  GREAT...Well, I'm not sure I would have put it that way but in retrospect I suppose it was true.

As parents, Robby and I always told our children that there were consequences to pay for every action.  One could choose to do something, but if we found out about it (and we eventually would...), there would be a price to pay.  We believe in discipline; without it, the animals would be running the zoo...and that wasn't about to happen at our household.  Discipline and values, however, begin at a very young age.  And it is not easy (I know that sounds very cliche'...) for parents, either; often times, it is like punishing themselves to implement the consequences and STICK WITH THEM.

Once when the children were young, I went to visit a local fabric store in town; it was about a 40 minute round trip.  As I packed Caitlin around on my hip to find my purchases, the boys stood over to the side looking at the buttons and notions.  After checking out, I loaded all four children back into the mini van and headed back home.  After our 20 minute ride, we got unloaded and I began to piddle around the house when I noticed the boys emptying something from their pockets.  A closer look revealed that they each had pockets full of buttons!  OH MY GOSH!...My kids had stolen buttons from the fabric store.  I confronted my little darlings by asking what they had.  They showed me the buttons and I promptly told them that they had stolen them from the store.  Their eyes became wide when I used the word "stolen", but not as wide as they would become when I told them I would be taking them back to there to tell the owner that they had "stolen" his buttons and apologize to him.  Now, I knew the owner, personally, and called him ahead of time.  He knew the trip would be long for me and told me that it wouldn't be necessary.  I insisted making it a "learning situation" and told him we would be there shortly.  I escorted three little boys into the store with heads tucked down in humility.  They walked up to the man and said, "We're sorry...we stole these buttons from you."  And they poured all of the buttons onto the counter.  He accepted their apology and we were again on our way.  We continued to shop at that fabric shop in town and every time, for quite a while, as we got ready to leave, the boys would turn their pockets inside out and say, "We don't have any buttons..."

The button incident was only the beginning of the discipline era for my children.  I'm not saying to never believe your children, but listen carefully to what they are saying; don't just automatically take their side because they are your child.  Children (teenagers, in particular...) are very smart.  As Ryan once told me, "I'll tell you the truth...you just have to ask the right question."

Apparently There Has Been A Little Confusion About How Old I Will Be On My Birthday...

I can remember it like yesterday when my mother turned 50 years old.  My nephew, who is only four years younger than I, walked into the house and asked my mother, "So, Mam-Maw, how does it feel to be half a century old?"  Ugh...I can only imagine how she must have felt to hear those words come out of his mouth.  And that is exactly why I have decided to be 48 this year for my birthday instead of 50!

OK...so, I thought momentarily about "embracing 50" and truly, I tried.  However, in the end I decided that I just wasn't ready for that number yet.  There are already SO many things that have happened because of that impending age.  And I must admit that none are really that enviable;  Here are a few:

1.  Maintenance is heck...but CRUCIAL!  There's the monthly roots and highlights to keep up with, nails to be polished and let's not forget this one...attempting to keep the wrinkles at bay.

2.  Then there's the good old HORMONES.  Yep, like it or not, they just keep rearing their ugly head.
      So, one has a choice...they can either live in misery (or make others miserable...) or do something
      about it.  You've got it!  Another daily duty...putting on all of those hormone creams.  Every time
      I do so, I think of Samantha on "Sex in the City".  Once again...the choices are limited...

3.  And if you are like me, there is the battle of the thyroid.  Sluggish thyroid = weight gain (ugh...
    just perfect!).  This leads to the next problem...

4.  Medication!  There was a day that I didn't have to take a pill; hmph!  I think I need a pillbox (NO!!  Heaven forbid, PLEASE!) to keep up with what my doctor wants me to take.  First (and most
     importantly...) the thyroid medication.  Then there's all of those vitamins.  The thyroid
     medication is for helping me regulate all the hormones in my body (Do I hear a HALLELUJAH
     coming from my spouse?!) so I can hopefully lose some weight.  And the vitamins?...I guess
     they are there to give me energy to do the following...

5.  Losing weight.  I can still recall (OMG!...Do I sound like my mother now?!) the day when I
     had a GREAT metabolism and could eat anything I wanted and NEVER exercise (sigh...).

6.  Then, there is something fishy going on with my mail AND e-mail these days; I keep getting
     letters to sign up for AARP!  WHAT THE HECK?!  Isn't that for "old" people?  CRAP!  They
     must have the wrong address and I wish they would QUIT sending that junk mail my way!

7.  And THIS is probably (No..it IS) the main reason that I have decided NOT to go "forward" with
     my age, but "backwards"...the old "Tube Up The Butt"!  Sorry, doc, but there are enough grim
     things going on with this gal without celebrating her 50th with a colonoscopy!  HEY!  When my
     friend turned 50, her husband (who is a doctor...) scheduled them a "Couple's Colonoscopy"!  I'M
     SERIOUS!!!  Definitely NOT what I want for MY birthday!

And so, when the kids were home the other day, the subject of my "Big Birthday" came up.  I looked at them quizzically and said, "WHAT 'Big Birthday?...I'm only going to be 48.'"  When they challenged me, I looked at my husband, who already knew about my plan, with the evil eye...He confirmed that I indeed WAS only going to be 48 years old on my birthday this year.  Of course, Caitlin attempted to spoil it by pointing out that at some point I would catch up in age to her future children; I replied, "Benjamin Button".

OK...so, I'm not saying that I WON'T be getting that "Tube Up The Butt" thing at SOME POINT (for those of you who are already worrying about me neglecting my health...gosh!).  However, I just want to ask one thing..."Why can't the age be 51?  There's already enough crappy (pun intended...) things beginning to take place without throwing that in."  Well, the good thing about it is the fact that "within the year" TECHNICALLY means there are 365 days to do it!  So, until then I'm going to
see what all I can get into..seeing that I won't be leaving the 40's for a while.

A "Play Day" For Young And Old Alike...

I set aside another day this week to take my grand daughter, Parker Ann, to play with my mother (her great-grandmother...) for the day.  It brought smiles all around for everyone!

Although I am so busy with this wedding planning, sometimes I just must make myself set aside a little time to do something for others.  That came in the form of making a visit to my mother's house this week.  When Parker showed up for Caitlin's bridal shower last weekend, my mother insisted that they needed a "play day" soon.  Well, I knew that there would be no good or convenient time to do that, but decided that I may as well just set aside a day at the beginning of the week and head out that way.

First, I would have to rise at 5:30 to prepare to leave for my 45 minute drive to pick Parker Ann up for the day.  Then, we would turn around and drive another hour to get to my mother's house.  Thankfully, Parker is a wonderful traveler!  Once we arrived, Mam-Maw greeted us, along with the aroma of chicken and dumplings and cornbread wafting from the stove.

Mam-Maw's House...The house where I grew up.

Parker walked in liked she owned the place, chasing after Mam-Maw as she walked from room to room and taking toys out of the ancient toy collection that had survived numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Mam-Maw, who is 83 years old, was so excited to have this tiny visitor for the day.  And a very busy day of playing for the both of them it would turn out to be.

"Hmmm...Now let's see; what can I do first?"

They took a walk outside...

And fed the birds...

And even had a heart-to-heart talk...

Once back inside the house, I had turned my head for just a moment when I noticed that my mother had plopped herself right down on the floor to play with Parker.

When it was time for Parker and I to make our hour-long trek back to Natchitoches, there were kisses and hugs passed all around.  It had been a very good day...A "Play Day" for my mother and her newest great-grand daughter.


Books I Am Reading Or Have Read..."Mockingjay"

I finally completed the final book in The Hunger Games Trilogy; "Mockingjay".  The "mockingjay" was introduced in the first book and carried through to the last.  First, worn as a pin on Katniss Everdeen's clothing, it quickly took hold among the rebel forces in Panem when she won the Hunger Games and defied the Gamemakers.  It became the symbol of the rebel forces who dreamed of one day gaining their freedom.

As I read this book, at one point I had to stop and remind myself that Katniss was only 17 years old.  Not that this story of rebellion and war would have been any easier to read, but to imagine the thought of a child having the responsibility of saving all the districts of Panem was a terrifying thought.  The Quarter Quell Games were even worse than the Hunger Games because all of the past tributes were still living were brought back to compete in these games.  If having children compete by killing one another wasn't bad enough, it was even crueler to see the now older individuals struggle to just survive.  And just when everyone thought all was lost and the Capitol would win again, the rebellion reared its head in a very large scale manner.

Unconscious, Katniss  awakes in District 13 only to find that the rebels have another plan for her; she is to be the face of the rebellion...she is to be "The Mockingjay".  Overwhelmed by not only this prospect, but also the fact that she does not know what has happened to Peeta or where he is, she finds herself distraught to the point of just barely surviving the mental battle that wage war within her own mind daily.  However, as she does begin to join the reality of her new life, it become very clear that the leaders of these rebels may be no different that the individuals who are currently in charge within the Capitol.

Katniss finds herself taking on the role of "The Mockingjay" and although it is not the rebellion's intent, she becomes totally engaged in the war on the front line.  She defies the authorities once again and pushes toward her ultimate goal; to reach the Capitol and President Snow and kill him.  Along the way, she learns about the cruelties and casualties of war and human nature.  Innocent people's lives are lost before her very eyes, others' minds are taken hostage because of the cruelties of the war and one thing is for certain; those in charge bear a striking resemblance to the people who are already in charge.

Katniss Everdeen..."The Mockingjay"; she is the 17 year old heroine of The Hunger Games.  Although just a child, she displays remarkable courage and an unwavering set of values.  I hope you have read "The Hunger Games Trilogy" along with me.   I thought it was a very unique series and one that was not easy to put aside (the mark of a good book, in my opinion).  If you have not read "The Hunger Games" yet, do so quickly...before the movie is released in March.  Meet the characters and get to know them on an intimate level before Hollywood gets to them.  Read these books today; you will not be disappointed!

                                                                   HAPPY READING!