Tuesday, September 29, 2009


My kids take gummy bear vitamins. Hell, I take gummy bear vitamins. They rock. But since they are indeed medication and are cunningly like candy, I keep them high in the cabinet, and instill a haunting fear of overdose in my children about them. So much so that I got a text from Kelly during the Taylor Swift concert, which looked something like this:

H n E want gummy vite. H says 1x day. can't remember if he had with bfast. Need clarification. Respond STAT.

So yesterday evening, Harrisen comes into the kitchen, with a serious look on his face.

H: I wish my taste buds could talk.
K: Why is that, buddy?
H: So they could help me remember if I had a gummy bear today.

It was so precious, I convinced him I could hear them, and he was "all clear" for a dose of the good stuff.

I don't think he bought for a minute that I could hear his taste buds, but he was sure happy to get his vitamin.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The view from here.

Sometimes small things happen to us that unexpectedly shake up our perception of the world around us. It happened to me the other day, and I still can't shake the feeling of being shaken.

I am about to start my first healthcare related job. It's been two full months since I was hired, and I am getting a bit anxious to get started. I was called in for a physical that included several things, including being fitted for a space suit that would protect me in the event of some sort of bioterrorism attack, but that was not the perspective changing moment of the physical by any means. (though, just in case I ever pass out from a biochemical weapon and can't inform you and my HR chart is not handy, I need a size small mask and white spaceman helmet. You know. Just in case.)

The astounding part of the physical came not from the color blind test (I passed. That wasn't hard to self-diagnose.) ...or from the vision test, which, oddly enough, I had to cheat on a bit, cause I can't tolerate less than perfect or almost perfect, and it seems my right eye is a little sluggish these days on the 20-20 line...but it came from the height and weight portion of my assesment. Seriously.

Now, anyone who knows me very well at all knows that I have an accurate assesment of my weight at any given moment. I can pretty much calculate the weight of my clothing and the combined sum and difference of the number of times I visited the ladies room and the number of diet cokes yet consumed, at least until lunch. All this, based on my first thing in the morning daily weigh-in, within a half of a pound. You know you are jealous of that mad skill, huh?

So, I had purposefully worn lightweight linen and no chunky jewelry, knowing a physical usually entails standing on those horrifying doctor's scales that look not unlike a turn of the century torture device. I was not in any way shocked by the number the nurse called out. I was kinda proud it was exactly (well, within the requisite half-pound cushion) what I predicted. Then the question came.

N: How tall are you?
K: Five seven and a half. Or maybe five eight. I'm not really sure.
N: Well, why don't we measure you and see?

(Now is when you should pay attention.)

N: Um, honey, not quite.
K: Whatareyoutalkingabout?
N: You are five six. And barely a half.
K: That can't be right. I've been at least five-seven since high school.
N: I can measure you again.
K: Please.

I stood up straight. I stretched. I imagined that thread from the top of my head suspending me from the ceiling, you know, the one the yoga instructors tell you to imagine?

N: Five six. And barely 1/2.
K: I think that thing is broken. Look at it. It's all disconnected and floppy looking and...
N: It's not broken. It's supposed to be like that.
K: BARELY 1/2?
N: Not even close to 3/4.
K: shit.
N: *laughs*
K: Do you know how this is going to impact my BMI?!!? I always say five-EIGHT on those things!
N: How tall is your mom?
K: Five feet. Just barely.
N: Her mother?
K: She was four ten.
N: Girl, you oughtta be glad you are five-six.

It was a good thing that the nurse had a sense of humor. She was also, as all good nurses should be, packed full of empathy. She asked me when was the last time I was actually measured. It was then that I realized I probably had never, ever been measured in my adult life. I just thought I was five seven and a half, maybe five eight if I really streched, and had accepted that as fact. The fact is, I am either:

1. Already shrinking.
2. Incredibly good at believing what it is I want to believe instead of what is true.

I know, from past experience and a carefully posed question at my doctor's office two days later, that it is most likely number 2.

You know, I'm not a liar. At least not to other people. I'm actually known as a straight shooter who tends to point out what other people don't necessarily want to accept as fact, no matter how boldly that fact is staring them in the face. Many of my friends (the real ones) appreciate this about me. But it seems to me that I am pretty proficient at lying to myself. Looking back on it, I have a long history of telling myself what I want to hear, and ignoring all signs and indications to the contrary. If I'm ever in one of those Barbara Walters interviews, now I know what I can say is my principle character flaw. Of course, I suppose I could just tell myself that refusing to bow down to the truth has kept me from being resigned and limited. That telling myself what I want to hear has kept me persevering until what I wanted something to be becomes what I envisioned in the first place. I know for a fact this has happened.

However, there are times when what is, simply...is. And no amount of spin or justification or rationalization or wanting it to be different can make it any other way. Sometimes we have to listen to that still, quiet voice that is telling the truth.

So, the view from five-feet-six-and-a-half-inches turns out not to be a different as I thought it would be, now that I have wrapped my mind around it. No amount of stretching will make me 5'-7''. Ever. It simply is what it is...and better to deal with it than go on pretending.

But...don't expect to run into me wearing flat shoes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The State We're In...

You know, unlike most people I know, I'm darned proud to be from Louisiana. I think our state, while short on morals and political righteousness, is long on culture, and that goes a long way with me. In fact, I think some of the dark and dirty episodes in our political history could probably be traced back to the cayenne pepper-laced culture we are steeped in. 

All that said...There are times when I do have to just shake my head at the unabashed redneck culture of North Louisiana. I think it's being a little too close to Arkansas. But the Ark-La-Tex, and Louisiana's Other Side is just a leeetle bit too diluted for me sometimes.  There are days I wish my grandmother had stayed put down in Lafayette and not wandered up here to water down the Acadian gene pool with some of that Yankee blood. (Yankee here being used very liberally. I don't think I have an ounce of blood in me that originates from a latitude higher than Little Rock.) 

That being said, I wonder if people in Washington or California, or New York, or even Iowa put up with bad grammar on road signs?  There has been threatened construction on a major interstate I use daily.  They have installed those big obnoxious signs that flash updates on the road conditions scattered along the side of the road for miles.  Somewhere there has been a disconnect in the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, because the signs are ready, but the construction obviously isn't.  For weeks, the signs have urged Louisiana motorists to "Drive Safe".  Ugh.  My eyes! My eyes!

There are some things I am a snob about. I admit it.  In my own defense, there are lots of things I am NOT a snob about. (I eat cheese tater tots and drink screw-top wine. Seriously. I think I have a good sense of balance with my snobbery.) Grammar is one of the things I am a snob about. I come from a long line of teachers, readers and writers, who, for whatever reason, managed to escape living in the boondocks in the South without horrible hick accents or pock-marked grammar. Those signs drive me everloving nuts.  But who do you call? Seriously? Can you imagine that conversation?

K: Hello. I'd like to file a complaint.
DOTD: Yeah?
K: The signs on I-49 have unspeakably bad grammar. It should be, "Drive Safe-Leee. Safe-Leee." 
DOTD: Uh, we'll get right on that ma'am. 

Yeah, that would be a waste of time. These are the days when I wish Tell the Times was still in existence. You could always find someone to give a shit on Tell the Times. 

Then, there are moments when the lunacy of Louisiana is just comical.  Shake your head, embarrassed for them comical, but comical nonetheless. Days like yesterday, when I went to the DMV, and caught a glimpse of this before I pulled into the parking
Looking at it now, I can see how people might misconstrue this sign to be offering a very formalized and legally binding version of the sno-cone. At the time, though I obviously picked up on the absurd, (hence the photograph), it was perfectly clear why this enterprising Louisianian was offering a one-stop-shop for more than one incongruous product. And why not? Got your cash for clunkers deal, need the paperwork done, it's hot, have a grape sno-cone.(notice, that's hypenated, and without the W, thankyouverymuch.) Makes perfect sense to me.
And, exhibit B. The signage on the building itself was even more captivating. No words from me. Just look and enjoy.

I did manage to get out of the DMV with a new license and my sanity. In seven minutes. Seriously.  The woman at the desk asked me if I wanted to go ahead and renew since it was almost my birthday anyway.  I was 4 dollars in cash short of the renewal amount so I declined. I was so awed that my number was called after three minutes I wasn't about to risk losing the mojo to go to the ATM.  I also had a fleeting moment of, "Wow...Louisiana must be doing something right. At least at the DMV!"  Then, on the way home, the same or surely related governmental agency bid me, "Drive Safe".  Welcome to Looziana.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Who knew?

I love to mow. Call it genetically inspired, maybe. My dad is an uber grass-cutting phenom. He always said he didn't like to mow, but living on 5 1/2 acres necessitated it. Often. And obsessively. In a certain pattern. Nobody could ever convince us he didn't enjoy it. I still think he likes to mow. And he'll still argue with me that it's just a necessary evil. We agree to disagree in this twenty five year argument.

I have figured out, however, that a woman mowing a yard opens herself up to all sorts of commentary from passers by. Onlookers. I don't really believe that men have onlookers when they mow. But women do. Or, should I say, I seem to.

Years ago when we were living on Centenary Boulevard, I decided I was going to mow the front yard. I got out there and started the job, and quickly got the eerie feeling someone was watching me. How did I get this little feeling? Might have been the binoculars that gave them away, but a herd of college frat boys in the apartment complex across the street thought my playing yard boy was quite the afternoon entertainment. They actually had folding chairs. And beer. In a styrofoam cooler...(in addition to the aforementioned binoculars.) I was banned from front-yard grass duty from then on.

Fast forward to today. We have gone through two yard men in the past six months. The last one was let go because he had the knack for breaking every single piece of yard equipment he laid his hands on. It was an epidemic. We finally had enough of his sacrifices to the Poulan gods, and said enough was enough. Hubby and I decided that we could handle the yard work, at least for the time being. So, today, I was determined to get the lot next to the house cut before Scot got home. I couldn't get to the gym today, so this was to be my exercise. Little did I know it was to be , above all, an exercise in patience and humility.

Got the ipod screaming, the mower revved up, and I was enjoying the annihilation of the grass and the workout. I felt pretty safe. We live at the dead end of a quiet street in a gated community vaguely reminiscent of Stepford. No college kids across the street. Nobody drinks beer on their porch in folding chairs. It was all going according to plan.

What I failed to take into consideration are the other annoyances of a nice little cookie cutter community: the helpful neighbors.

Our neighborhood is fraught with walkers. Dog walkers, power walkers, stroller walkers...Our dead end is the turn around point for every.single.walker. Period.

During the hour and a half it took me to cut the grass in that stupid lot, I got those funny little half amused looks from the flipping walkers. A cross between, "Awwww, isn't that cute. A little lady, mowing the grass." and "Awwww, poor pitiful woman. Pushing that heavy mower. In this heat, bless her heart."

Now, anyone who knows me knows that the only thing I hate worse than being thought of as a cute little anything is being thought of as a weak, pitiful anything. It's a lawnmower, people, not an ancient torture device! I am strong and tough, and frankly was enjoying kicking the grass' butt before your condescending little looks started, thankyouverymuch.

But no, it didn't stop there. If it had, I'm not sure it would have made adequate blog fodder. I guess I looked so darned cute and so darned pitiful that some of the walkers decided they would actually engage me in conversation during my mowing. Somehow the fierce-sweaty face, dark glasses and earbuds didn't give off the leave-me-the-hell-alone vibe I was hoping for. Evidentally, a woman cutting grass has to wear leather and weapons to avoid being a spectacle. Who knew?

The first walker to smile and slow their pace for input on my agronomy skills was a nice older gentleman, pulling a wagon with smiling grandkids. His comment:
G: "You mowing that grass wet?"
K: "Ummm...yeah. It's a little wet."

I was kinda digging weaving in and out of the sprinklers as I mowed. Avoiding the little pop up heads like a whack-a-mole game. The refreshing burst of cool water as I got a little too close...It was all part of the enjoyment of the experience for me. Evidently, men don't mow wet grass. Who knew?

Luckily Mr. Nice Older Gentleman with the wagon was content to simply comment on the obvious and cluck his tongue. Not so for neighbor number two.

With him, I saw the grin coming from down the street. Uppers and lowers. Bared completely. Evidently, in India, women don't mow grass, because he looked at me like I had six arms and a trunk.

I: "You mowing your grass!"
It was a statement, not a question so I tried to nod and continue on. No dice.
I: "Why you not mowing in a straight line?"
K: "Because I like carving my initials in the grass with the mower. And then chopping them up. And you see, there are these popped up sprinkler heads I am avoiding. And fire ants. The poison I put on them hasn't killed them yet. And straight lines are boring. And since the grass is wet, going in swirls and circles is hopefully going to mask the ruts in the yard that will divulge to my husband that I mowed the grass wet. And I am, frankly, just not a straight line type gal."

I didn't actually say all of that. I nodded and smiled, and tried to look grateful for his input. I mowed in a straight line until he rounded the corner. Then I made a large swoop just to spite him.

Final straw was the guy who simply laughed his ass off at me. Unabashedly. I at least admired his honesty. You see, I did mention that this was to substitute for my workout today? Well, the typical workout is a 3-4 mile run at a pretty good pace. So, I had some work to do to get my heart rate up. Yes...in addition to the ipod and dark shades, I was also wearing my heart rate monitor. No way I was going to sweat that much and not know how many 100 calorie snack packs I had burned! So, by the end of the mowing, I wanted to get my heart rate up a little above the target zone, kinda like a few minutes of sprinting at the end of the run. So I was, ummm, sort of, jogging the mower. Ok, ok. So I deserved the laughs, perhaps. But isn't there some unspoken rule that you have sanctuary from ridicule in your own front yard? Or does that only apply to the back yard?

Oh well. I got the grass cut. I stayed in the target zone for over 90 minutes. I earned enough negative calories for a few glasses of wine to help numb the humiliation.

Anyone know of a good yard man? Yes, I said man. No woman deserves to be made a spectacle of just cause she wants to cut some grass.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Slow learners...

Our summer thus far has been pretty jammed with responsibility and commitment, with precious little laid-back family time. We decided Sunday would be a good opportunity to change that.

Way back in October, at the Louisiana State Fair (one of my favorite places on earth...perhaps the foot long corn dogs and red dye number 3 from the candy apples clouded my judgment) we signed up for a day at a brand new, indoor waterpark in East Texas. Free passes for our family of four, $50 worth of gift cards, $40 in gas money, $40 cash...can you see where this is going? The catch, of course was that we had to attend a "presentation" about vacation home ownership at the resort where this alluring water wonderland is located. Eh, no biggie, we say. We can sit through an hour of anything. Like I said, I blame it on the midway food.

Since October, a very persistent fellow named Rudy has been calling our home at least twice a month, trying to get us to commit to our day of leisure at his resort. He is always very polite, not pushy, and understanding as to why, months later, we still haven't booked an appointment for the experience. Finally, he reachs us on Saturday, with both of us home, and no really good reason to say no. Besides, the forecast was for rain, and the waterpark is indoors. So, we make an appointment for 10:00 the next morning. We are to bring ourselves and picture ID. Mmmmmkay. Wouldn't want us to pass our opportunity on to another unsuspecting victim...errrr....recipient.

So, we pack up the car and the kids and head West. It takes quite a bit of gear for a family of four to enjoy water activities. Suits, towels, sunscreen, dry clothes, swim diapers, xanax.... But by 7:45 AM, we were on our way. I try very hard to prep the children for the fact that we had a wee bit of business to take care of before we actually got wet.

"Remember, kids. We have a meeting to go to before the waterpark. Ok? It might take a long time. But after we are done if you are reeeeeeallly good, we'll go to the waterpark. So.... Meeting first. Swim after. Got it? And you have to mind. Really mind. If you don't mind Mommy and Daddy, we'll come home and not go to the waterpark. Does everyone understand?"

I swore I would never make crazy, empty threats to my children. Swore. I also swore I would never dose them with Benedryl for my own convenience and utter the words, "Because I SAID SO, that's WHY!" Well, two out of three ain't bad. Benedryl turns my kids into hyperactive primates...so that helps keep me honest.

We arrive at the gated entrance of the resort and announce ourselves to the uniformed attendant. So far, so good. We pull up to the log cabin-looking structure tagged "Membership". It is hard to miss. There are at least a dozen brightly colored helium balloons bobbing in the rain. Harrisen is delighted. Anything that is announced by helium balloons is worth checking out in his opinion.

We run everyone in out of the rain and Scot signs us in at the desk. I am immediately struck by how many other people seemed to be taking advantage of their opportunity at exactly the same time as we were. It is quite the organizational maelstrom. Once you are signed in with the front desk, you are ushered to partake of hot coffee, fresh popcorn and Grandma's cookies, in the package, being offered by a lovely uniformed hostess. Next to the popcorn popper is a plastic dispenser full of pink lemonade and styrofoam cups.

Looking around at my fellow victims, errr...opportunists, I am very glad I chose to dress my family as if we were NOT headed straight to the waterpark. I purposefully and carefully accessorized and did NOT underdress swimwear. I mean, sure, we were all about the waterpark, but I wasn't about to advertise that fact before our obligation was met. It seems like I was the only human who gave two flips about appearing cooly disinterested in the free stuff. Everyone else seems to flaunt their swim trunks and bathing suit straps in a show of rebellious "I'm just here for the tickets" mob mentality. Some people even have their beach towels draped over their necks! The nerve.

We sit for about 20 minutes. The kids gobble oatmeal raisin cookies, popcorn and slurp lemonade, getting only a marginal amount on the pleather sofa and low-pile industrial carpet.

Finally, our name is called by a chipper young fellow named Wesley. He is smartly dressed in a striped shirt, jaunty black suspenders and trousers. He introduces himself and leads us out the side doors to another building a little bit down the way. As he maneuvers us across the manicured lawns to another suspiciously modular-looking building, I notice the skoal ring on the back pocket of his polyester pants. The bells start going off...but I help corral my little family into Level II of the opportunity.

We walk through the double french doors and are thrust into a virtual cacophony of people and activity. There are at least a hundred rough-hewn wooden tables where at least a hundred versions of Wesley are seated with a least a hundred versions of the Smith family. The chairs are hard-backed made of twigs and look like they were whittled from East Texas Pine. On each rough pine table, there sits a three-ring binder full of glossy, four-color-process propaganda for your viewing pleasure. The sheer noise and excitement of that many people in such a small space, the looming white board on the wall, and the bank of "managers" behind the counter in the back who oversaw the entire spectacle like vacation-real-estate-pit bosses, combined with the faux-rustic, deep in the heart of East Texas decor, leads me to whisper to Scot..."Oh hell...it's the redneck stock exchange." We sit on our whittled twig chairs.

Wesley is woefully poor at small talk, which suits me fine. My fight or flight instincts are starting to kick in at this point, and my bullshit sensors are firing on all cylinders.

The first thing Wesley tries to comment on from our application was Scot's profession.

W: "So...you're a faux-tographer?"
S: "Yes, I'm a professional photographer."
W: "So.....how long have you been into faux-tography?"
S: "About 30 years now."
W: "Whoa." (did I neglect to mention that Wesley appears to be about 19 years old? And that's being generous.)

It takes him only about 4 more times butchering the pronunciation of my husband's industry and occupation before I change the subject:

K: "Ok, Wesley....please do tell us about your resort."

Well, I should have known that there was a method to the madness. Skipping ahead in the script is not in the cards for a three-week veteran of vacation resort sales like Wesley. He quickly produces a "worksheet" that will, after a series of questions about our travel preferences and vacation history, delineate very clearly how purchasing a unit at this vacation resort will save us at least $90,000 in our lifetime alone. (that's not counting the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren, to whom we would be able to bequeath our vacation property and all its benefits.)

The question and answer section includes the ubiquitous, "Would you say spending quality time with your family is important to you?" I should have stopped him right there. It is the perfect opportunity to cut to the chase and get to the real reason of our trip into the state of Texas on a Sunday. The quality time. The waterpark. I begin to realize that the guy with the beach towel around his neck is probably getting a considerably shorter presentation than we were. Score one for the rednecks.

Now, you will remember that our children are present at this little "meeting". The empty threats have not worked. They never do. That' s why we parents swear never to use them. The kids do as they please anyway, and mommy ends up looking like a schmoe, because she either needs copious amounts of alcohol or a trip down the lazy river herself after enduring this opportunity. So...the kids. Harrisen alternates between crawling around under Wesley's legs beneath the pine top table, rolling around on the carpet, and fiddling with the crutches of the amputee at the pine table next to us. He and his sister both take turns at the double french doors, as the unofficial greeters. At one point, Evangeline comes out of the foyer of the building with someone's dripping golf umbrella like an oversized and inappropriate parasol. Throughout the presentation, they weave in and out of the tables as if it were a hall of mirrors.

I have just returned from retrieving the girl-child from the far end of the room for the third time, when a booming voice comes over the PA system. "It is a tradition here at our resort to welcome the newest owners into the flock! Sitting right over there is Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, aaaaaaaalllll the way from Beauuuuuuumont Texas! For their first vacation, they will be visiting our sister property is LAS VEGAS, Neeeeeevaaaada! Give em a hand!" All of the Wesleys of the room break into mad applause, and the lucky Wesley gets to write his name and the names of his victims/clients on the massive white board. I lean over to Scot:

K: "Dammit. The kids already drank the Kool-aid."

Shortly after that, Wesley gets to the part of the day when we have our official tour. We follow him out of the log cabin stock exchange building to the parking lot. He produces a door remote and went to un-lock the doors of his small, black, sports car.

K: "Where are we going...?"
W: "We are going to drive around for the tour of the property..."
K: "Do you have carseats?"
W: "Nah. We'll stay on property. We don't even have to wear seatbelts."
K: "Um...there are hundreds of other cars on the roads of this resort."
W: "We won't go over 25 mph or so..."

HOLEEE CRAP! Has he not seen those public safety commercials where they put a kid unrestrained on a downhill sled at JUST 25 mph? Has he not seen their little fiberglass crash test dummy heads explode like ripe fruit? A year's worth of waterpark tickets wouldn't have been worth turning my kids into statistics.

K: "Well, we'll just have to go in our car."
W: "No problem."

We all retrace our steps back to our car. I can read Scot's mind...

S: "GREAT, Katie. Show him the Mercedes. Make it reeeallly hard to let him down easy."

Sure enough, during the tour, Scot manages to mention the age of my car at least twice. Teamwork. He's the cleanup.

We take a very tepid tour of the property, which is nice, but crowded and full of gangs of people not unlike the ones at the membership building. White tank tops, tattoos, cigarettes rolled up in their sleeves, un-earned spandex...We live in the deep south. We happily co-exist, work and are even related to southern redneck Bubbas. We don't, however, typically choose to vacation with them. I kept track of the beach towels hanging over the balcony railings:
*Harley Davidson
*Rebel Flags
*Bass Pro Shops

lather, rinse, repeat.

After getting the kids in and out of the car about 15 times to view yet another modular condo unit, we make our way back to the stock exchange. Our original pine table is waiting on us. We have finally made our way to the pitch portion of the day. The bottom line. Dollars and cents. I can almost smell the chlorine.

But, we don't get the bottom line until AFTER we have to produce an answer to the question, "So, how much do you think all of this would cost? Don't you think it would be worth, I don't know? Maybe, twenty thousand dollars?"

I am really proud of Scot. He isn't going to play. Period. He's the consummate southern gentleman, but he knows real estate. Poor Wesley doesn't really know how to proceed with his script when the suckers won't pony up even a perfunctory answer to his question. Since our non-commital answer throws him, he just kinda spit it out. $15,500. For the vacation of your dreams. For the rest of your life. And they only want $1,200 down. Today.

W: "What do you think?"
K: "I think there is absolutely no way we would pay that."
W: "Didn't you like the property?"
K: "It was very nice. But I'm unemployed and in school, and we have no way of spending that at this time."

Whew. Done. There. Now, pony up the tickets, bud.

Wesley informs us that it "Always comes down to money..." and he is "at the end of what he could do for us, but that we now had to wait for his manager to come over before we could go to gifting. "

We are entering Phase II of the opportunity, and don't even know it.

About this point in time, my blood sugar starts to bottom out. I'm a grazer, and have been really careful about my food intake this summer. I had 3/4 cup of kix cereal, 1/2 cup skim milk, and 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries at SEVEN in the morning. That's roughly 185 calories that were surely already expended in nervous energy and chasing the kids in the first 3o minutes in the stock exchange. As anyone who has ever seen me hungry before can attest, I start to get hostile.

K: "How long is it going to take to get a manager over here?"
W: "Oh, it' won't be long. People are starting to get up."

At least he doesn't try to make any more small talk about faux-tography.

Ten minutes pass.

K: "The kids are surely getting hungry. Are there any snacks?"
W: "There are vending machines over there."
K: "Sure, yeah. Once we say 'no' the free popcorn and cookies are off the table, right?" (ok, I didn't really say this, but I sure as hell thought it.)

Finally, the manager leaves the pit and comes over. He introduces himself as Raul. Raul is a self proclaimed straight shooter who doesn't have any agenda at all but to help us out in any way he can. He wants to know what the problem is. What is preventing us from being up there on that big white board?

I tell him the same story. Just not financially in the cards for us at this time. Raul excuses himself. He goes back to the pit.

He comes back with a huge grin on his face. He HAS the deal for us. You see, he's not really a manager. He is in titles and deeds. Someone JUST NOW has upgraded their property, and the deed has not been repriced. The equity they have paid over the years is still on file. We can have their deed for HALF PRICE! The other suckers have paid for years on it and knocked the price down into what is surely in the range of a professional faux-tographer and his unemployed nursing student wife! It's our lucky day! He gives us a few minutes to talk it over, and retreats to the pit, where he grins at us with his bonded toilet-bowl teeth. We do, indeed talk it over.

S: "Well, it' s a much better deal."
K: "Yes, it is. Wonder which of the people we have clapped for on that white board bit on Phase I?"
S: "No telling. We could get free camping."
K: "For eight grand we could buy a campground. NOT in East Texas."
S: "You are so right. We could go to Europe a lot of times for that kind of money. It's taken us half a year to come here once for free. Would we really come here?"
K: "Why are we still discussing this? Get Raul over here."

I tell Raul that we have decided not to take advantage of this opportunity. He seems perplexed. Wesley is on the edge of his chair. He's still thinking about the ride in the Mercedes. He's probably also needing a dip as badly as I'm needing a snack.

I'm a pretty good bad cop. I gently but firmly tell him we need to get on to the waterpark and feed the children. That's right. The kids.

He thanks us, shakes our hand, and tells us that Colin from gifting will be with us shortly. Frickin finally.

But this story doesn't end there. We are unknowingly being led straight into Phase III. Blindly, and without the benefit of a snack.

Colin from gifting shows up. But not before we have a revelation.

K: "Honey, we have DONE this before."
S: "I think we have."
K: "Grand Mayan Resort. Puerto Vallarta. I don't think we even got prizes."
S: "Nope. We swore we would never do this again."
K: "Well, next time....surely we will remember."

Colin from gifting asks us if the downpayment is standing in our way today. I tell him that we are unprepared to put any amount of money down today. Big mistake. These guys are professionals. I am a slow learner whose brain desperately needs a shot of glucose, and who thinks she can play with the vacation sales boys on their turf. I'm toast.

Colin offers to HOLD the amazing deal Raul has proposed for 18 months. A whole year and a half to enjoy the Redneck Riviera, unlimited, while only paying $70 a month! At the end of that time period, our monthly fees will apply towards our down payment, because we will certainly be ready to hand over the eight grand after 18 months of enjoying the facilities. Surely, we won't be able to imagine life without our membership after the trial offer!

Colin's approach is different from Wesley's fumbling newbie awkwardness and Raul's polished-creepy straight shooter tactic. Colin is cool. Steely. He knows we are no fools. He is the cleanup person. He gives us a minute to talk it over.

K: "I have no intention of paying $750 for 18 months of this crap."
S: "We have done this before."
K: "I know. Mayan Palace."
S: "No. Before that."
K: "Oh hell. You are so right."
S: "Where was it?"
K: "Hot Springs Village. To get a free condo to visit with your daughter."
S: "We are really slow learners."
K: "Get Colin over here."

He takes it well. Colin shakes our hands and sends us to gifting. Another modular building. Another form. Another wait. We are almost FOUR hours into our opportunity at this point. I ask Scot to look in the cabinets for snacks.

Luckily, gifting moves pretty quickly. Bridgett is no-nonsense and her office is quiet with no whittled wood furniture. By the time you migrate through all the phases to gifting, they've dropped the ruse. It's plain old office chairs, and Bridgett seems like a real person.

The waterpark was ok. Harrisen has marginally more fun than he does in our backyard pool. Evangeline has marginally less fun, as she is too short to go down any slides. The one I sneak her on gets us whistled at by a bored lifeguard who probably would not have saved our lives if we were drowning, but was big on enforcing the rules on the water flume . I eat an entire personal pepperoni pizza, a bag of M&M cookies, and a Three Musketeers bar. I run into 2 other women wearing my Target bathing suit.

On the ride home, we swear we are going to remember this adventure, and avoid opportunities of this kind in the future. Seems like we have said that before. But this time I mean it. When it comes time to bequeath property to the kids and grandkids, it is highly unlikely that vacation resort property will be on the list. We have decided to stick to the kind that pays US each month, and buy our own waterpark tickets from now on.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


With school having crunched into my hang-around-the-house time in the mornings, many times over the past two months, I have been on the road to class before Harrisen climbed out of bed. I've shouldered my fair share of mommy-guilt over my absence, but it's all worked out pretty well. Daddy rocks the breakfast. He uses a lot more syrup than I do.

This morning, Harrisen rolls out of bed (our bed. At some point each night, he ends up between us. Co-sleeping really stuck with that kid.) He, with his mess of tousled curls and flushed sheet-lined cheeks, bee-lines to me standing in the kitchen and gleefully says:

H: "Mommy! I am so happy you are here this morning!"
M: "I'm so happy you are here this morning, Harrisen!"
H: "Are you kidding me? I'm always here when I wake up."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Life as I know it.

I was talking to a new friend tonight about life, and most particularly, family life...about the absolute power of the love of a child, and how it transforms your whole existance, and how there really aren't words to describe the love you feel when you create a human being of your own (with a little help from God, of course.) It's all consuming.

I have loved the newness of mommyhood so very much. I have dedicated my life to being a mother, from the moment we threw the birth control pills away, almost seven years ago. It seemed like such a small, natural step. One that millions of people take every year, when they hitch up their big girl panties and decide to take the plunge into parenthood. I couldn't know. How could I have known? That that small act of faith would turn into a more than two year odyssey through infertility, surgery, needles, tests, and the rollercoaster of hope and tragedy, far to close on each other's heels.

Sitting amist the chaos of family life, with scattered toys and piled laundry, with my one high- tech baby and my wonderfully "free" baby (neither more a miracle than the other), sleeping blissfully in their beds, that rollercoaster seems to belong to someone else's life. It seem so very far away, and doesn't even seem to make much sense when one sees the fecundity of our present. But just touching on the story with someone who doesn't know reminds me of the unseen part. Nothing is as it appears. If you get to know someone well enough, you will see that very little is how it seems.

Just as I hesitated before jumping into parenting (almost 7 months...past when my dear husband was ready-to-go....so arbitrary, looking back...) I hesitate to let it the intensity of baby-parenting go. I realize that my children are separating from me. Their independence grows each day, and I am reminded of Scot's mantra: "Our only job is to make them independent." Now, there are tons of cliches, (some even written on t-shirts) that deal with parents letting go. I'm sure they all have merit. But when you are loosening your grip on what has defined you for almost a decade, cliches ring a bit hollow. I wouldn't have made it through infertility if it hadn't been for my tenacity. Now, I battle that same tenacity as I try to pry the "me" out of mommy.

I want to find out who I am again, outside of being defined by my role as a parent. Just lately, I am remembering that I am a performer. A singer. An actress, and some might even say, a bit of a diva. That feels good. Familiar. Comfortable. Like putting on an old coat and finding that it still fits. I'm also a student. And, as in the past, still a darned good one.

As I grow along with my children, I marvel at my ability to wear different hats, and how liberating that feels. To stay up late rehearsing a show, but come home just a little too fast down the interstate, hoping to make it in time for tucking in. Is this what is meant by balance? I always scoffed at the idea. I guess I wasn't ready. I wanted and needed to do nothing but mommy my children after fighting so hard for them. But, as they grow and life adapts, I embrace balance. It's ok. It's healthy. Keep reminding me of that, ok?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Big girl.

I gotta come to grips with it. Evangeline is growing up. Last weekend, mostly out of sheer laziness, I refused to go to the drawer in the kitchen to get her a fresh binky for bedtime. I told her, "Sorry, honey, you are a big girl, and we need to say bye-bye to the binky." Rip off the band-aid, ya know? She whined a little...and fussed a little...and I had to pat her to sleep, and we darned near wore out 4 expensive D cells in the birdie projector, but she slept almost through the night. Amazement reigned.

She hasn't mentioned the binky again. I have mentioned it from time to time, while bragging to other people that she gave it up, which seems to remind her, but she's ok. She's basically sleeping through the night, which she was not doing before. I'm getting rest. It's bliss.

All of the sudden, she's into the pink potty, too. I think she's in the spirit, what with her successful run being binky-free and all. She wants to sit on it all. the. time. The other night I heard Harrisen in there cheering for her, which I almost ignored except for the fact that it sounded so very sincere. Sure enough, tee tee in the pink potty! I think I scared her a little with my "potty dance". Harrisen used to dig it, but I think Evangeline expected me to be a little more lady-like for her celebration. She basically looked at me like I was a freak. If she had the verbage, I'm sure she would have said, "ummmmkay. That was nice mom. Let's stop the embarrassment for both of us and get to the chocolate." She certainly did appreciate wholeheartedly the candy she received as a reward. She has a wicked sweet tooth.

I'm not as sad as I though I would be with these milestones flashing by like highway signs at 80mph. You would think I would be rather melancholy for what is likely my last child ever, moving past the baby stage I so adore, and would do over and over again if I could. Maybe it's because I've seen what's round the bend, and it's an awful lot of fun. T-ball. Real conversations. Help with the laundry and letting the dog out.

Wonder what Evangeline's "isms" will end up as on this blog? Time will tell. As for now, I'm really proud of our big girl.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


After Mass today, I went to the church nursery to pick up the children.   They were finishing up M&M cookies.  At 12 noon.  I can't STAND when they feed my kids chocolate, in the church clothes, right at lunch time. But that's a whole 'nother post.

As I was brushing away the offending crumbs, I noticed Harrisen had crumbs on his eyes, in his eyebrows, and all the way up on his forehead.

K: "Harrisen, how on earth did you get cookie crumbs on your eyes?"
H: "I was eating a cookie."
K:  "With your eyes?"
H: *pause* "Well, maybe the crumbs came to life and walked up my face."

Guess I deserved it, what with my smartass comment and all. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Harrisen and his Daddy are snuggling on the couch...

H: "Daddy, if I didn't have you, I'd have a butler...but I prefer you."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Run, Mama, Run.

About 13 years ago, I was an avid runner. I ran 3 miles every morning and three miles every evening.  I was in the best cardiovascular shape of my life.  Emotional and mental shape was pretty iffy, but I had a buff bod.

Fast forward a decade. I had two babies in the span of less than two years...that's two pregnancies, two deliveries, and two babies nursing for going on 4 years now, nonstop....well, my body is now torturing me back.  I feel heavy, lumpy and definitely too mommy-ish for my brain, which is still stuck somewhere back 10 years ago when I was a hot babe. Let me tell ya, it sucks to be a hot babe in your head and a soccer mom below the neck.

Thanks to the motivation of an upcoming 5K for an excellent cause, and the support of my goody goody gumdrop friends, I am pounding the pavement again, and loving it.  I'm up to running about 20 minutes at a stretch now, in just 3 and a half weeks.  I think my body remembered. My mind sure does. I am loving the feeling of peace you get when your mind just blanks out and you are thinking of nothing but the rhythm of your feet and your breathing. It's pretty zen. 

The first week, I felt really HEAVY.  Like someone was holding onto my heiney while I ran. I didn't have to turn around and look to figure out that the only thing clinging to my ass was my ass itself. *sigh* Baby steps, right?  

So, hopefully by the time I fly to Buffalo to race in September, I will be closer to physically embracing my inner babe.  But more than just getting my body back, I feel like I am reclaiming a part of me that has been shelved for a few years. The selfish part of me.  The part that says, "It's ok to take an hour for yourself to workout and eat some of the expensive strawberries."  

It's easy to be selfless when you are a mom. It doesn't even seem like a sacrifice to sacrifice. But it sure does feel nice to take yourself off of the back burner for just a little while each day. I'm a better mom for it, I think.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time Flies...

I could make up a bunch of excuses as to why I haven't blogged in months, but I'll save myself the embarrassment. I just got busy. Anyway, time sure flies, doesn't it?

Just the other day I was listening to Evangeline's sweet little lisping voice, thinking...I need to record that. I'll miss that some day, because before long, she won't sound like that, and I don't ever want to forget the way she says "Yesssss."

Harrisen always said, "Yeah." or "Yep". Like a little grown man in a baby boy's body. Evangeline, since the beginning of her verbal stage, has answered in the affirmative with a polite, proper and succinct, "Yesssss." She often punctuates her one word affirmation with a curt little nod, and big wide eyes, to prove she is sincere. It's so stinkin' adorable I can hardly stand it. I didn't even insist of "yesssssss....ma'am" because it was so HER.

Soooo....as fleeting time would have it, the very DAY after I made a mental note of the probability of the transitive nature of her signature phrase, she answers me with an almost teen-sounding, "Yeah." Dull. Flat. Almost petulant. Boo Hiss. I tried to correct her.

"Evangeline, it's Yessssss".
"No, Mommy."
"Can you say, Yessssss?"
"No, Mommy."
"Fine. Then you have to say, 'Yes, Ma'am' ".

So there. Like I really won that one, huh? *sigh*

There are other things she does when she speaks that are memorable to me, and very much "signature" phrases. For example, she punctuates her conversations by tacking your name on the end of each sentence. "
"No, no milk, Daddy."
"Watch Street, Mommy."
"Sit down, Hessin."

I really like her compliant side. She can be very penitant if you are lecturing her...and make you believe it. She does it with a simple, "Ok".

"Evangeline, you cannot bite your brother. It's not nice. Teeth are for chewing food."
*ducks head and musters up tears in her eyes...*
"Ok, mommy..." except it sounds like "eehhhkaaay, mawmeee.." and man, do I feel like the big bad wolf. But I can't seem to shake the feeling that she just might be manipulating me with those long lashes and big eyes.

She is also a big fan of "Hee go."

Find trash on the floor? "Hee-go, Mommy".
Sharing with brother? "Hee-go, Hessin".
Wanting wait-service for her half-finished dinner plate? She just lifts it up and says "Hee-go!" to anyone nearby. It's so dismissive. Kinda like, "Well, I'm all done with this...someone please take it away. Be gone." What a diva. Wonder where she gets that?

She really is poised on the edge of a language explosion. I'm not ready for it. I'm not ready for my baby to grow up. I'm not ready to know everything going on in her head...spilled out like closed captioning, underscoring our lives. I like her mystery. I like trying to figure her out. I'm trying to savor every last minute of it, because I know that before long, the day will come when I beg her to stop talking....BEG her for a moment of peace from the constant questions and running narrative that are so familiar to me, being the mom of an almost-four-year-old.

"You're gonna miss this...."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I would like to thank the Academy...

But mostly, my friend and fellow blogger, Megan, who has enjoyed my ramblings and given me the following virtual award:

I appreciate her recognizing me, and am glad to know some people like to read what's rumbling about inside my head. I had to think for a while on who I will pass this on to...there are quite a few "fabulous" blogs out there that I read and enjoy.  I love peeking into other people's brains...it's virtual voyeurism at its best. 

So...the nominees are:

Kelly at Bachelor Girl.  They broke the mold when they made this chick.  Witty, quick, insightful and full of the good old fashioned Roman spirit...not to mention a very dear friend.

Jorie at reMARKable times.  She is a true writer and her way of stringing words together will reel you in. Don't look unless you want to be addicted to her "keeping it real" wit and style.

Andrea at Always Remember.  A courageous, beautiful and un-dimmable spirit.  Her blog is a chronicle of pain and healing as she learns to move forward as a young widow.  My heart whispers prayers for her and hers as I read.  Her passion and strength will move you.

These are my current top picks of "private people" blogs (meaning, no big names, no fame, no advertising banners...just real people like me sharing a bit of their souls online.) Enjoy your award, ladies! You deserve it.

Now, I'm headed to the after-party. The red carpet is so taxing. 


My Papaw is...
-the sunshine on ripe tomatoes and the itchy fuzz on okra.
-the glint of a crooked front tooth in a rare smile.
-the hush of a prayer from the end of the row, 2 rows from the back.
-the shake of a terrifying finger to a squealing girl whose ribs needed counting.
-the comfort of a cracked black naugahyde recliner with a beach towel over the back.
-the temperance of raisin bran on a Sunday morning.
-the secret of Brylcreem in the bathroom and Afrin in the bedroom window.
-the creak of an old green yard swing.
-the smack of an after-dinner toothpick.
-the bite, strong and unmistakable, of ribbon cane in a big gold can.
-the scuff of black vinyl slippers by the back door, with the heels folded in.
-the odd frosty smell of squirrels in the deep freeze.
-the crinkle of a red vinyl suit and fuzzy white beard.
-the swing of long arms, palms turned back.
-the damp of khaki coveralls and a straw hat.
-the shimmer of opalescent fish scales clinging to plywood and strong arms.
-the security of a Stearns in an old green fishing boat.
-the sinking feeling in your gut when a tornado looms.
-the buzz of wisteria in the spring and pink azaleas in Easter pictures.
-the frustration of a small child on Christmas morning.
-the bitter cold of memories of Europe.
-the blare of LSU over kitchen clatter.
-the bark of small dogs who were never pets.
-the crunch of hot french fries pulled out of a greasy paper bag on the stove.

He is strength, temperance, patience, and steady, often unspoken love.  He is stability, predictability, and perseverance.  He is a lack of folly with a hearty laugh.  He is a formidable memory, even as he fades.

He is not confusion, weakness, hopelessness and fear.  He is not vulnerability, neediness, and frailty.  I will never remember him for the last, passing things he was, the leftovers, the things that remain.  I will remember him for the real true person he was, the Papaw of my childhood, when our roles were in proper order, and he was not waiting.

Dearest Pap, may your wait continue to be filled with the joy of your greatest accomplishment: the family who treasures you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rite of Passage...

We had a big night yesterday.  The weather forecast was quite questionable, with ice storms blowing in from the Northwest.  I had been meaning for some time to take Harrisen to the public library and give him the grand tour, ever since he asked me one day, "What is a library?"

Bad mommy. Bad mommy.

I thought with an impending snow day to keep us cooped up in the house, some new books and kid videos would be just the thing to weather the storm.

We walked into the building and Harrisen marched right up to the big granite counter.  Totally un-coached, this was the conversation:

H: Hello. I'm Harrisen. What's your name?
M: I'm Melly.  How can I help you?
H: Well, I need to check out a library book.
M: Do you have a library card?
H:  Hmmm...No, I don't.
M: Well, you have to have a library card to check out a book. 
H:  O.K.  I need a library card.
M: Good. We'll get you one right now.

I filled out the paperwork, and Melly the librarian began the process of bar-coding and computer-entering that eventually resulted in a silver plastic credit-card with a 20 item limit and zero percent interest.  

I couldn't help but think back to my first library card, which was issued at the Gilliam Branch Library, which, at the time, was one room in the building that served as the fire station, mayor's office, and library, as well as an impromptu clogging studio two nights a week.  The library card itself  was manila cardstock with my name typed on it.  It had some sort of metal plate on it that was used to make an imprint.  I remember having to sign the little card in the back of each book and having the librarian rubber stamp the due date with one of those adjustable date stamps to put in the front pocket.  The front pocket is still the same, but it now gets stuffed with a computer generated receipt as your reminder.

So, he got his library card and bee-lined for the kids section. Juvenile Books, to be exact.  I led him over to the picture books. All seven long aisles of them.  Overwhelmed, much?

I decided that it would be best to limit the selection for the first go round.  I took him to the very last aisle, and told him he could select 5 books.  His method of selection was pretty interesting. He would pick up whatever seemed to catch his eye and exclaim, "Oh, I want to check out this one!"  Some of them were deemed "Too scary" and others, "No, no, no, no, no...." I could never determine what his exact criteria for check-out-ability was, but we ended up with a pretty good variety.  The themes were mud, cows, a bald kid, a snowman, some bugs, and a Curious George thrown in for good measure. 

He has taken extremely good care of his temporary treasures, and seems enchanted by his stack of "new" books that he likes to remind me are "just borrowed".

The impending ice storm never panned out, but I am glad it gave me a push to introduce my son to what I pray will be a long and rich relationship with one of the great jewels of a civilized society.  I just hope we are still civilized enough to have real books, in real libraries, when it comes time for my grandchild's first library card.

Friday, January 23, 2009

For the love of marmalade...

My husband loves orange marmalade. LOVES it.  Peanut butter and marmalade sandwiches on my homemade sourdough bread are his weakness.  Before marrying him, I had only heard of orange marmalade, in the Paddington Bear stories. It wasn't something that people really ate, it was a storybook-sugarplum-sweet.  His taste for marmalade was positively exotic to me!

I recently bought 2 huge bags of satsuma oranges.  It became obvious that they would go bad before the kids and I got around to eating them all, so my January issue of Martha Stewart Living with it's cover depicting Martha ladling hot marmalade into jars was exceptionally timely.  

Making marmalade was my first foray into jam and jelly making. My grandmother always made jelly and jam, since my grandfather finds jelly a crucial condiment for all three meals of the day, but when I phoned her during my marmalade-making she told me she had actually never made it.  I was in a brave new world, and without a recipe, since Martha's all called for weirdo ingredients I didn't have.

Here's what I did:

I peeled all the satsumas and meyer lemons (thanks Kristel!) I had in the fruit bowl.  I would estimate that was about 5 lemons and 8 satsumas.  I seeded and chopped the fruit and sliced the peels into thin, small slices. I added about 2 quarts of water and a tablespoon of vanilla, and brought it to a hard boil on the stove.  I let it boil for about 5 minutes, then removed it from the fire and let it cool.  I moved the pan to the fridge overnight.  (This I learned from Martha. I think it allows the pectin in the peels to release so that the marmalade will "jell")  The next day, I brought it to a boil again, and boiled it for about 15 minutes, until the peels were very tender.  Then, I measured the mixture and added 3/4 cup of sugar for each cup of orange mixture.  (This was Martha's proportion).  I stirred well, then brought the whole sticky mess up to 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.  The marmalade smelled heavenly and browned to a golden caramel color. Lovely. 

The next, and most fulfilling step was re-creating Martha's magazine cover, where I ladled my yumminess into glass jars.  Well, I also got a big kick out of using my pinking shears to cut the adorable little gingham circles in citrusy-colors to top the jars, but that step is purely optional.

Even though I was not, and am still not a connoisseur of orange marmalade, I appreciate the tangy zest of this good stuff on hot bread, and I thrill in making something special for the ones I love.  

(Scot was so moved by the marmalade he even did a whole little photo shoot for my blog. Thanks, honey!)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Something's Fishy...

I have a new career. I breed and sell tropical fish. I just started 2 days ago, but I have already been so successful in my store that I have made thousands of dollars and discovered 45 rare breeds of fish.

I take it by now, you realize this is some sort of fantasy, right?

Well, it's better than fantasy. It's an addictive, fun and almost free application for the iphone called "Fish Tycoon". *also available to download for pc and mac.

I usually try to downplay my addiction to various computer-related things to my husband, as he tends to scoff at my online pursuits (even while he is in the process of ebaying/craislisting/youtubing, himself). He gets e-commerce. It has real money, and real rewards in the mailbox. Real people showing up to meet him in parking lots to exchange money for stuff. He gets it.

He does not get:
*message boards
*role playing/SIM games
But this new game is so fantastic, and my addiction to it has been so rapid and complete that I don't even bother hiding it from him. I'm immune to his eye rolls at this point. And this one is so "ridiculous" to him that he actually laughs in a humorous way. Sort of.
The game consists of 2 tanks of fish, some cash in the bank, and a fish store. You manage your tanks of fish, feed them, breed them, research their environment, learn about advertising, and manage their nutrition, fertility, and longevity by purchasing improvements for your tanks with the money you earn selling the offspring. The game progresses in somewhat "real time", so you
develop patience as well as a bit of anticipation to see what glorious hybrids you come up with by breeding your inventory.

The kids are fascinated with my fish. They love to climb up to wherever I have stashed my iphone and poke around at my tanks. It does, after all, create bubbles and make a fascinating whooshing sound when you touch the tanks. And I suppose it's pretty harmless. But I can't help but worry that they might accidentally breed a sick fish or put my Greenfin Spotanus up for sale by accident. And that would be bad. Very bad.

I think SIM games are great fun. I remember at the dawning of the internet when all of my friends and I would swarm the computer labs at Centenary College to play "Foothills", which was a combination game/chatroom. It operated on DOS, which is kinda hard to even fathom now. It is good for me to escape and pretend. I have that dramatic streak in me, so "pretending" is like a daily requirement. And face it, it's fun to do something wild that I would never do in real life, like.....hmmmm...breed tropical fish! I have a hard time remembering to feed "H" (our real fish) in my actual life, so becoming a Fish Tycoon is indeed a break from reality, not to mention the fact that I have customers swarming my store to purchase $45 fish as quick as I can get them in the tank. Have these people not watched the Dow Jones? Are they not aware of the recession? Oblivious. Totally oblivious and loaded with discretionary income. It's a breath of fresh air.

So, I expect my obsession with my fish to last another week or so. Last night I didn't even get up to feed them in the middle of the night, and I can't seem to keep any of the really interesting or pretty ones around for long. I woke up to about 20 dead fish this morning. That really cramps the style of on online fish tycoon. What's the point of a game if it doesn't turn you into a rockstar? I could kill fish in real life. In my virtual reality, I want to rock the fish breeding world. And, I just can't see myself poring over genetic spreadsheets for a game the way some whackjobs out there do. I'm not that far gone.

Ooops. Gotta go. My Golden Goldbulbs are maturing, and I need to sell the suckers before they croak on me. Gotta love virtual reality.


Harrisen has, of late, been a perfect joy to be around. Polite, considerate, mannerly, and precious. This is quite a change from the emotional roller coaster we were on with him between Thanksgiving and Christmas, where his mood was as changeable as Louisiana weather in winter.

Being Daddy's sidekick in the evenings for dusk-views is one of Harrisen's favorite things. He likes tagging along and watching Dad work his magic.

He must have been especially cooperative yesterday, because Daddy promised him a cookie for his good behavior. Daddy also, evidently, used an unfamiliar cliche' when describing this promised cookie to Harrisen, as this was the conversation we had as soon as they burst in the door:

H: Mommy! I want a cookie with my name on it. Daddy said I could have one because I was so good!
K: (puzzled) Honey, we don't have any cookies with your name on them.
H: But Daddy PROMISED! He said as soon as we got home there was a cookie waiting with MY NAME ON IT!

What followed was a pretty-much unsuccessful lecture on cliche's and how they didn't exactly mean what they sounded like they meant. And what made it worse was that the cookies were all gone anyway. Poor baby.

Thank goodness for Little Debbie, because if that hadn't sufficed, I would have been hauling out the kitchen aid and pastry bag to pipe his name on a cookie. Darnit.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Last night, as usual, Harrisen offered the blessing for our dinner. Usually, he says the traditional Catholic blessing, "Bless us, Oh, Lord..."  but some days he goes renegade and says a very sweet prayer straight from the heart.  Last night had his dad and I holding our breaths and stifling giggles over our bowls of pasta.
H- "Jesus.....thank you for our food.  Thank you for our family.  And thank you for Diet Coke for Mommy.  And water for me and Evangeline. Amen."
Methinks I should lay off the little red and silver cans for a while.  

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I've seen the light.

You know how people who pass on to the other side and somehow make it back return with their perspective totally changed and a new outlook on life?  I think that sort-of happened to me this morning.

I have been battling some vile mixture of bronchitis and sinus infection topped with a healthy serving of fever and weakness for about a week. Last night was the worst. I literally could not get up off of the sofa.  I called my darling husband and told him that he had to pick the baby up from daycare because I simply could not get dressed and drive across town.  As he is so good at doing in crisis situation, he "jumped-to" and shuffled the preschooler home, switched cars, and went to pick up the baby.  

45 minutes later he was home with burgers and fries for everyone.  And...not just a burger for me, a cheeseburger.  He has, in the past, argued the take-out cheese issue with me.  He can't fathom paying .59 at Whataburger for a greasy slice of pasteurized processed cheese food when we have a big pile of them in the fridge at home.  But I don't WANT a kraft single on my Whataburger. I want the original melty cheese slice that is native to the burger itself. I don't want a cold stiff slice of cheese. You can't microwave it to melt it without removing all the vegetables, which is a pain in the ass, and even if you did, the bun would be petrified by the time you reached prime melting temp of the cheese. In my opinion, .59 is a bargain.

And, the fries... A big steaming box of fries.  Hubby and I have had french fry issues, too. In fact, I still have, posted on the fridge, a cut-out piece of a Whataburger wrapper that reads "The fries rarely make it all the way home."  Now, while it sounds funny and joke-like, let me assure you that it was not magnet-ed to the fridge as a joke any more than democrats put Bush stickers on their compact hybrids to joke about our President.  It was done in a cold rage...you know, the kind that comes from a sting so deep that you can't even form words about it?  The kind of hurt that arises from being denied a hot crispy french fry to accompany your cold-kraft-single-from-the-fridge-burger. grrrrr.

So last night, I was served a hot, dry, native-cheese Whataburger with french fries and the very last Diet Coke out of the fridge.  It almost didn't even matter that he dropped the diet coke on the tile floor before serving, or that I could hardly taste the meal with my sinuses in their broken condition.  The kids were at their places, eating quietly, and my husband was flitting about taking care of all of us while I watched Dr. Phil from the sofa. I mean, It was totally a Queen of Sheba moment.  This continued all night. If I needed something, he jumped. No lumbering, no deep sighs, no pregnant pause while he finished what he was doing on his iphone. Magical, perfect attentiveness all night long.

So, of course, I had to test the waters.  I'm a woman, after all. And I do this for a living, right?  

K- "Would you make me some chocolate chip cookies?"
S- (hopping to the fridge) "Sure, honey. Where is that tube of dough stuff?"
K-  "We don't have any. You would have to make them."
S-   "You mean, like, from scratch?"
K-  (giggling inside) "Yep, but it's not hard."
S-  (looking around for his keys) "I'll be right back"
K- "No, No, No...honey... don't go to Walmart. By the time you do that you could have mixed it all up. It's ok, you don't have to."
S- "It will only take a minute."
K- "You can't leave me here with these children. We might not all be alive when you get back."
S-  "Where is the recipe?"

My husband broke out the Kitchen Aid and made home-made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from scratch with nothing but a little direction from the impaired arm-chair Betty Crocker in the living room.  It was slightly hysterical at times.  Mostly when Harrisen drug his Learning Tower over to "help", as baking is our thing.  Scot couldn't quite deal with the chemistry of cookies and toddler "help" at the same time. I'm sure Harrisen was kinda confused.  Evangeline shrieking and hanging onto his legs was another high point.  I did rouse myself from my sofa long enough to disengage her from his lower body, as that's enough to make me postal, and he was already maxing out in the patience category.  

In the end, my husband produced a crispy-yet-chewy cookie that could have won some award, especially since he admitted that he had "probably never" in his 52 years made cookies from scratch, and if he had, he couldn't remember it.

So, I'm feeling better this morning. I'm sure it was a combination of greasy junk food and unconditional love.  These are the things I learned after coming back from the brink:

*cookie sheets can be used upside down with no noticeable deterioration in cookie quality.
*a little Clorox spray will dissolve petrified mustard/bun/pickle mixture from a high chair tray.
*stainless steel sinks are not always stainless, but steel wool helps.
*the same double, undermount, stainless sink set, at full capacity, holds three full dishwasher loads. 
*a dirty diaper left out overnight on the sofa table is really no different from one 30 feet away in an open trash can, odor wise.
*a three year old can pass for bathed with a wet wipe and hair gel.
*I am blessed beyond all measure with a husband who may not do it just like I do it, but is cheerful and willing to do it when I need him.

Three cheers, Scotty-boy. You rock.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Curbing the carnivore.

My uncle recently was diagnosed with a health condition that his doctor decided to treat with a strict vegan diet.  He has been living as a vegan for several months now, and when I saw him on Saturday, he looked like a college guy. Ripped abs and all. He's in his 60's.  He says he feels better than he has in years.  

I had read that eating vegetarian or vegan several times a week would save tons on your grocery bill as well as be a healthy switch for families.  So, I decided to give it a whirl.  My time in Senegal gave me some good direction for vegetarian fare. Suppers usually fed 12 people with no animal protein at all.  While lait caille (soured milk with millet) made me run for the hills, a supper of steaming lentils always was one of my favorites.  

I threw this together last night for my family and it was a huge hit. Delicious, low fat, high protein and full of taste.  Even Evangeline, with her developing palate gobbled it up.  Live as a vegetarian for an evening.  Your heart and pocketbook will love you for it, and with the full flavor and satisfying feel of my improvised African/Indian lentil concoction, I promise it will not be a sacrifice!

1 1/2 cups dried lentils
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2  cups chicken broth (can use water to make this vegan)
2 onions, chopped 
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 bag baby spinach leaves
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Saute the onions and garlic with the oil in a large skillet until clear.  Add lentils and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, simmering about a half hour until the lentils are almost tender enough to eat.  Add the spinach, tomatoes and spices, continue simmering until the spinach is well wilted and the lentils are done. Serve over white or brown rice. 

Thanks, Uncle Jerry, for the inspiration!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Harrisen seems to have  absolutely incredible things pop out of his brain almost daily.  I always say, "I need to write that down..." and sometimes I do, and sometimes, well...

So, I decided maybe I should blog them. Share a chuckle with friends and family and archive his brain as it grows and develops. It's a neat peek into how he sees the world.

H- "Mommy! I have a collection of fingers, and I am studying them with this book light."
K- "Really? How many do you have?"
H- (counting) "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10! I have ten in my collection, and I can see them with this green booklight."
K- "That's fascinating."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Would you like fries with that?

I admit, I suffer from a very mild case of road rage.  Mine usually consists of a frustrated "People! People!" in traffic, or even a highly agitated "DUDE!" when cut off at an intersection.  In fact, my son can mimic me perfectly and loves to chant, "People, People....." when we are stuck in traffic.  I have never, however, understood how anyone could be moved to violence by an idiot on the highway.

New Year's day, my little family of four was headed out of town to spend the weekend with loved ones in Arkansas. We stopped by the golden arches for a quick lunch on the go.  This particular drive-thru had two lines for your service pleasure, so I pulled up to the outside lane and waited for the attendant to take my order. Nothing complicated, mind you...Happy Meals, Cheeseburgers, Apple Dippers....all without condiments of course, since I detest the taste, smell and mess of anything that is applied with a plastic squirt bottle. I mean, ew. Really.  It took a good while for the attendant to ever answer the speaker, and when she did, it was a little bit of a tragedy trying to communicate. We were, after all, in the northern part of the city, and they do speak a variation of our dialect up there. 

In the several minute lag between me completing my order and her responding with my total, I hear honking coming from the hulking SUV behind me.  When I turned me head to see what the commotion was, I saw a middle aged woman gesticulating wildly, thrashing about in the front seat. I couldn't tell if she was in the middle of an attack of St. Vitus' dance, or if she was for some unknown reason becoming enraged at ME, but the repetitive arching of her long, curved red-painted, acrylic-tipped middle finger made me suspect the latter.  

In utter confusion, I leaned my head out of the car window and said, "What on earth is wrong with you?"  She responded with an explosion of profanity so foul I cannot sully my blog with even a recap.  Suffice it to say, she was, um, wondering what I was doing.  To which I hollered back, "I'm just placing my order." and I once again asked what on earth was wrong with her.  By this time, my honor had been challenged and my name defiled with a slew of awful words coming out of her filthy mouth, so of course, Sir Galahad riding shotgun jumped out of the car.

What the heck did he think he was going to do?  I mean, really?  Trounce the woman in the Micky D's parking lot?  Reason with her? Yeah right.  He did, however, in his best high-school-punk fashion give her a good dose of "bring it on...." complete with the puffed up chest and all.

Now, it's at this point in the story that I feel compelled to point out that in addition to the box of gaily wrapped packages, four suitcases, three bags of snacks, two restless children, and a partridge in a pear tree, we were also traveling with our Chinese Crested dog.  If you have never seen one of these dogs in person, well, I'm sorry. You have surely missed out on a truly delightful freak of canine nature. Josie is a little thing, weighing in at about 10 pounds. She has huge bat ears that stand straight up and are fringed with white flowing hair that also sprouts up on her head.  Aside from that, she's pretty much skin, as the Chinese Crested is a hairless breed.  During the winter she wears head-to-paw polar fleece pajamas...for obvious reasons.   So, suffice it to say, she's a lap dog extraordinaire and the pajamas give her a real "awwww" factor.

During the time dearest husband is inciting crazy woman into a full blown fistfight, I go ahead and look back, thinking I can at least reason with him. It's at this point that I realize he is defending my honor with his loud mouth and macho self...with a prissy chinese crested dog in pink pajamas tucked under his arm!  I would have howled with laughter right then and there, but, as these things tend to do, a lot happened in a split second, and evidently, Madame Road Rage was packing heat in her purple patent pleather purse, and had been threatening my husband (and the dog, I guess) with "some of this..." 

At this point, the manager, who happened to be in the parking lot, asked us if we wanted her to call the police. Since we had just been threatened with a gun, not 4 blocks from CCC, we decided that would be a good thing to do.  As the manager stepped away to make the call, psycho pulled up next to us, and brandished the cheap handbag again, making shooting motions and saying, "Want some of this? You want some of this?"  Over and over again.  Sheesh. All of 36 inches from my children!

We did manage to jot down her license plate as she sped away.  I always like to make words and phrases out of license plates.  For example, my husband's first three letters are JFA...and I have always thought it spelled out a secret little slogan that extols the merits of his handsome backside for all the world to see.  GGC?  Good Grief, Charlie....or Get Going, Creep.  You get the idea.

Well, does it surprise you that her license plate said OGR?  Happy New Year, to you, too...Ma'am.