Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Sacred Order of Tattered Pajamas

For me, one of the greatest joys about raising children has been watching them develop friendships. As they enter high school, one or two of the familiar faces I have seen around become even more familiar....they become a part of my life, too.

These friends have standing invitations to spend the night.

They have free range of my pantry/freezer/refrigerator.

They see me in my pajamas - a lot. I have "new friend" pajamas that are matching and cover up most of my skin and make me look appropriate.

Then there are "broken-in-friend pajamas". I will let you think about that one.

Lydia knows. She has seen the "broken-in-friend pajamas"....many times. She noticed it first.

They give me nicknames and fashion advice. They eat....and leave empty cans and paper wrappers everywhere. Cold cheese dip is hard to get out of a bowl. Especially after it sits out for several days, unnoticed. On the floor, beside the sofa.

They hang out in my kitchen. With me. With me, in my pajamas.

I like that.

Anyway, all 3 of the "big kids" have been so lucky to have a "bestie".

Martha says that a good friend is "someone you can trust with your deepest secret".

For Martha, this would be Kate.

I sing to Kate.

"KKKKKatie, beautiful lady, you're the only gggggirl that I adore....and when the mmmmoon shines, over the valley, I'll be waiting at the kkkkkitchen door"!

Martha says a good friend is "someone who doesn't judge you".

Are ya'll listening?? This is wisdom.

For Rob, this would be not just one or two friends, but a POSSE!

I'm not seeing much judging going on here....I feel the love, baby! And the effects of drinking all day.

Or here....just love....

Rob and Carson have been friends since 8th grade. She is like a family member - brotherly/sisterly love. Wonderful~

Martha says "a good friend will stand beside you even if they don't agree with you".

Carol Anne brought Lydia into my life....Lydie-Bug. She has seen the tattered, skimpy, worn out but comfortable pajamas so many times that I consider it an honor that she still shows me some respect.

This picture is at least 2 years old...a golden oldie....but I like it. Lydia is at a different college from Carol Anne, but she still has first rights to the tattered pajamas and has an open invitation to spend the night here. She recognized that when a NEW GIRL spends the night at our house, my pajamas improve until a) I can break her in or b) she is too terrified to ever come back.

Martha says "a good friend is someone you can dress up with and be silly and they don't care"

Hands down, this is the photo for those well spoken words....

This is a shot of Kate and Martha rolling on the floor in a fit of laughter. The laughter being over their ridiculous clothes....hard to tell it here, but it was a moment of hilarity. For whatever reason. Warms my heart.

Note: I was in my tattered pajamas when I took this photo.

With Rob turning 21 years old yesterday, I have been pondering what happens to "grown-ups" and how friendships endure throughout our lives.

Except when they don't.

It happens.

I think it is a lot like the way squirrels collect their nuts in spring and store them for winter.

During our youth (spring), we collect and build these wonderful relationships and store them in our heart.

When winter arrives (aging parents, illness, hardships, sick children, demanding jobs, broken marriages, financial worries) the friendships are still there....waiting and inside you and standing beside you. Maybe even holding you up when you can't stand alone. No judgment.

That is how it should be, anyway.

From my perspective, a friendship will last forever if it is characterized by grace and mercy. You gotta give and forgive. Not always in equal measure. Sometimes, it is just a simple matter of perseverance.

Some friendships come later in life. These friends are icing on the cake....a late Indian summer.

Thanks, kids, for all the good times. Work hard. Hold hands....and don't talk about my pajamas except with the "besties".

From the house,


Wednesday, January 19, 2011



Do you know that feeling of total mental exhaustion?

The feeling of being so overwhelmed by the daily grind that you can't think anymore?

I am betting that you definitely know this feeling.

It is, unfortunately, a normal part of the human condition these days.

Rage days.

Road rage, "unknown caller" on your caller ID rage, cell phone rage, incompetent people EVERYWHERE rage, burnt dinner rage, overdrawn account rage, late fee rage, GET OFF YOUR PHONE rage, why can't this zit heal rage, tear in your last pair of black tights rage, what is so hard about spelling the word "equality" rage, don't use that tone with me rage, a meeting shouldn't last more than an hour rage, where is that smell in the pantry coming from rage....

I dunno. The list is endless.

Feel free to add a few rages of your own to the above list.

Tired days.

So tired that you can't be nice, so tired that you can't smile, so tired that you kick the dog and snap at the kid and say some really bad burn dinner because you are staring off into space and then you fall into a rage.

Usually, it is only a temporary feeling. Mike and I use the term "decompress" to describe what we do when we feel this way.

We need to "decompress" after a long day. Alone. Separate from everyone, from each other. For half an hour. Where it is quiet. Then, after we have calmed down, we can converse with one another. Practice spelling "equality". Eat the burned dinner. Speak to the "unknown caller" and tell them never to call again.

Sometimes it is a deeper problem. Half an hour doesn't fix it....and there isn't a vacation in sight. As my friend, Harriett, said "I miss blue water". Me too, Harriett. Me too.

Additionally, the weather has been a bit gloomy. And the husband has been with his fire pit.

This is when I go to bed at 7:00 pm.

So that I can wake up at 2:00 am and start obsessing about nothing in particular.

My bird feeder has actually been helping me through the rage days and the too-darn-tired-to- think days.

This is the view from the outside, but the best part is what I can see from the comfort of my kitchen....

If I am really quiet and still, I can watch them eat and flutter and admire the beautiful colors that God has adorned them with.

Ahhh, my little chickadee!

These little guys are eating about 5 pounds of seed a week! Whoever coined the expression "eats like a bird" must have never had a bird feeder.

Matthew 6:26 - Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (NIV)

I am channeling this to you....quiet kitchen, sunny window, favorite beverage, fuzzy slippers, no sowing or reaping or storing.

Happy Friday!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Macbeth, Er, Macmike, Er Whatever

My husband is having an emotional affair.

With our fire pit.

It is all my fault, really.

I guess I'm not HOT enough.

Snicker. Wink.

Plus, I whined and whined and pleaded for this seductress. I wanted the fire pit more than he did! I just knew it would be an awesome addition to our backyard.

And I finally got what I wanted.

He spends a lot of time out there. Stacking, sweeping, arranging, fueling.....gazing.....sigh.

It is very make all the oh-so-easy sexual innuendos....about "poking" and "blowing" and so on....but, get the drift? He is out there. By the fire.

Come home, honey.

We miss you.

In all fairness to me, it has been a little chilly out there - even with that blazing, toasty, hot inferno that is roaring and popping.

I went and traded my extremely fashionable night-on-the town-with-my-man attire for night-by-the-fire-pit attire. It was easy to do. I mean, I already had the stretchy pants and bulky hole-filled sweaters.

But the smell of wood smoke makes me sneeze and get all stuffy.....and somebody has to cook supper, right?

When the weather warms up just a wee bit, I will go fight for my man. I can gather kindling or something, yes? Throw a hunk of meat on the grill? Sweep ashes?

Listen to the gurgling, babbling fountain.....

The owls really get cranking with their "who-whos" and the sunsets are nice....

But for now, the nights are absent of husband.

Well, not technically. He is OUT THERE. With a little Bruce Springsteen and a cold beverage.

I always thought it would be something (some ONE) different.

Curve ball.



Out! Out! Woodsmoke! (This is where the Shakespeare reference comes in, o.k?)

Ya' know....I DO like stretchy pants....and old sweaters.


To My Critics

My critics (AKA the "big kids") have given me writer's block.

They, the critics, have asked me to stop blogging about such serious/deep topics.

The critics want me to be funny....that is what they like. Laughter.

I told them you just can't conjure up funny stuff. It has to just happen.

Apparently, this hasn't been a very light-hearted week for me. I am still waiting for the slap-your-knee event to occur. When it does, you will be the first to know.

However, I did get a little delirious and laugh until I cried just after Rob kissed me good-bye and then said, "Oh, can you give me that $134 bucks that I had to use at the grocery store this week?"

I love you, Rob. But you weren't letting me out the door without cranking that check out, huh?

Scenes from Rob's life....

Just musing....

Anyway, he didn't see why that $134 was so funny to me, so I guess I can't blog about the fact that I am really just an ATM machine. With good skin.

Which brings me to another, not funny, but shallow thought.

Skin care.

It haunts me to think how many products I use on my face/body - not to mention how much money I spend - trying to slow down the aging process. Here is a sampling:

There are 2 different body lotions here. One promises to deliver "age defying" moisture and the other one is a "firming body cream".

I am using the firming body cream on my not-so-firm thighs and my wrinkly ole chest....I will have to get back to you in about 5 more years on the results.

Then, we have under eye creams and some kind of acid....I don't know. This really isn't funny.

What does the most to keep me young is in my shower. Oh, yeah, I AM going there....

It is....

Get ready....

Something quite underestimated....

Toys! In my shower! Because I have a 7 year old! And I am a 48 year old! And he keeps me young!

Goodness gracious! This is depressing. See what happens when you listen to your critics?

If you listen to your critics, you get writer's block and then you find yourself soul-searching for something humorous and you end up with some overly-examined, shallow thoughts on aging and ATM machines.

Is anyone laughing???

Nap time.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Fruit From the Tree

Inclement Weather.

School canceled.

Another excuse to not get out of my pajamas. Or put away laundry, run errands, clean out a closet, return phone calls or attend meetings.

Other than scuffing around in my pajamas, I have done so much "nothing" that I feel a kind of lethargy that seems illegal!

One more day, and I will have eaten a pound of Dove chocolate.

One more day, and "cabin fever" will be a real and present danger in this household.

I can't help it. I like busy.

Yet, I did read a good book and that good book has me thinking and thinking gets me blogging.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

Hold on second. Commercial break. Mrs. Kilpatrick (high school English teacher), I am sorry I didn't underline the title to this book, but I can't figure out how to do it on blogspot. It seems BOLD and ITALICS will have to suffice!

OK. Sorry.

Anyway, Still Alice tells the story of a fifty year old professor at Harvard who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. It is described as "at once beautiful and terrifying".

I agree.

Kind of simultaneously to reading this book, I received some terrible news that a dear friend's brother had died, suddenly, at the age of 54 years old.

I know. You want to shoot me. It is sad. But stay with me, ok?

In Still Alice, the main character comes to realize that "... just because [butterflies'] lives were short didn't mean they were tragic... See, they have a beautiful life."


"Her mother had comforted her and told her not to be sad for the butterflies, that just because their lives were short didn't mean they were tragic. Watching them flying in the warm sun among the daisies in their garden, her mother had said to her, see, they have a beautiful life. Alice liked remembering that."

And, a man dies too young. 54 years old. A man of integrity. Loved. Admired. Appreciated. A mentor. A leader. Accomplished. Respected.

Tragic ending? Yes.

Tragic life? No.

A tree is known by its fruit.

Memories are sustaining. They teach. They carry forward what is not lost, but learned.

A life is so much less than we think and so much more than we realize.

It is nearly impossible to understand this when you are the loved one who has lost someone.

I have been there, already, too many times.

But when the veil of grief is lifted and your soul has had some healing, it is there. We live on. Long after our bodies die. Short life, long life - either way, but a life lived well isn't tragic, it is a gift. It is a foundation stone. For your friends, for your children and in the case of this young man, for a community of people.

I am inspired. No, I am convicted to try harder. To make everyday count. Every hour.

Hug harder. Laugh louder. Ignore the dust bunnies and play pirates. Serve. Savor. Set an example.

Who am I? I am the people I love. I am the lessons I have taught. I am a disciple of the One I reflect.

I am a butterfly.

And a bug.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Mighty, Like a Rose

Sunday is my mother's 80th birthday.

Isn't she beautiful?

I have been blessed with a good mother.

Her name is Marianne, and this is what she taught me:

Rely on your faith.

This bugged me when I was younger. Imagine going to your mother with a problem that seems insurmountable - the most important thing EVER....a boyfriend, college choice, career decision....and she says, "Pray about it. God will handle it. Trust." The end.


I didn't get it for quite a while.

But now I do.

Thank you, Mom. For teaching me, no, for showing me by your own example, how to live a life of faith and trust in the Lord.

In my "ripe old age", I can understand your quiet strength and where it comes from.

This is #1 for a reason.

It is the greatest gift she ever gave me. It has saved me. Literally.

It doesn't matter what you have, but who you ARE, that matters.

Snobs and climbers and toppers and all those "sorts" are silly and misdirected and shouldn't be taken seriously. It isn't what you wear, drive, join or marry that makes you happy. What makes you happy is being "real" and content with who God made you to be. (See #1)

Don't be self-centered.

She has told me this a lot. In fact, I am ashamed of how many times she has said this to me. But listen people....DON'T BE SELF-CENTERED. My mama is right. It makes you unhappy. It makes other people unhappy. Just do the right thing. God has everything under control. (See #1)

Watch movies that make you happy. Sad/violent/scary movies are disturbing, and who needs to be sad/scared?

I am a believer. And really, shouldn't you be, too? We like the movies where people sing a lot. I like singing. It is better than crying or screaming.

Give other people lots of second chances. They probably need the second chance more than you need to be right.

Huge. This is huge. The stronger person builds the bridge. My mother is the Golden Gate. I used to think it was weakness but now, oh now, I see it as amazing grace (See #1). And a really cool bridge. Am I losing you? I get kinda misty and philosophic when it comes to my mother....

There is always room for one more at the dinner table.

Not everybody knows how to make biscuits or cornbread from scratch. Food can be stretched further than you realize when a friend needs a place to eat.

This probably has you confused, but my mother understands....

Say "I love you".

A thousand times. I love you, too, Mama.

Know the names of flowers, plant them, pick them, arrange them in a vase.

Eat your hot dog with chili and onions, never turn down dessert, have breakfast for dinner, sing lullabies to your baby, use your imagination, learn to play bridge, relish a good book, do the daily crossword, drink your coffee black, never complain.....

Don't talk about yourself too much.

I have a hard time with this one, obviously. But I am working on it, Mom.

Listen, folks, I could go on forever. I could write a book about what my mother has taught me. She didn't always "instruct" me in ways that other mothers "instruct" their daughters. We didn't talk about the things I talk to my daughters about. She didn't really discuss superficial things like proper attire and hygiene and fashion and gossip (my mother doesn't gossip - tell her your secrets). She doesn't complain. EVER.

What she did/does is deflect painful things and collect beautiful things....all the while praying and staying close to the ONE who planted her here in the first place.

When I grow up, I hope I am just like her. Hmmmmm.

Mama, you are mighty, like a rose. I love you. Happy Birthday.

Jeanne Bug

Tuesday, January 4, 2011



This word just rolls off my tongue.

This morning, it appeared in a little bubble above my head.


I was sitting in the shower.

Yes, sitting.

That is what I do when every muscle in my body is sore from DAY ONE: BACK AT THE GYM.

I was there, sitting in the shower, for at least 30 minutes.

For the first 29 minutes, I was in a zombie, trance-like state.

For the last minute, I was pondering juxtaposition.


Because my life is composed of contrasts.

And I like the word juxtaposition better than contrast.

I get a good visual (i.e. bubble in my head) from this word and please don't correct my incorrect assumptions about this word and "burst my bubble"! OK? OK.

A prime example of this juxta-situation (accept it now - I am making up words) would be my children.

Rob and Carol Anne.

Wait. Wrong photo.

Rob and Carol Anne.

Ahh. Yes, them!

They are awesome, wonderful, delightful. I love having them home.


They cook food at 1 am.

I go to bed. My kitchen is clean. I wake up. My kitchen smells of brownies or pasta alfredo or frozen pizza and there are pots and pans in the sink. I find dirty dishes and empty glassses in their room. Only....

I don't find them until 3:00 pm when these people wake up.

Of course they were hungry after bowling until midnight-thirty.

Did I mention that some of us are "back in school" and wake up before day break? That a 7 year old has a hard time with labeling poly grams and putting vocabulary words in alphabetical order when there are 10 teenagers playing Wii in the next room? That an "old" mother needs regular sleep, especially after her deltoids/triceps/glutes/abs were exercised and the act of putting her head on the pillow is painful?

At night, as I toss and turn and wait for them to come home safely....I plot my revenge.

Juxta-pain. Juxta-confusion. Juxta-life.

I wake up. They sleep. I leave. I get home.They get up. They leave. They come home. I go to bed. They leave. They come home. They go to bed. I wake up. I wake up tired.

Michael has a 3-D project due.

Michael needs a bagel with cream cheese and his vitamin and some spit on his wacky hair and a lunch packed.

The dogs are hungry, too.

Thank goodness Martha can tie her own shoes and considers a Diet Mountain Dew a healthy breakfast. Thank goodness she has after-school activities until dark.


I like it.

Somehow, it helps put things in perspective for me.

I am going to miss the chaos. I am going to miss how happy they are to eat my food (Rob) and wear my clothes (Carol Anne), and how willing they are to play Word Pirate with Michael every night and that they will run any mundane errand for me as long as they can drive my car and use my debit card. I am going to miss the extra hugs and the time spent telling stories and laughing. I like their company.

Drive safely. Call home. Go to church. Get some exercise. Eat right. Study. Change your sheets. Make your bed. Sometimes. Make friends. Get a part-time job. Lock your doors. Call home. Come home. I love you.



Thank you, Lord.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Making Your Life Easier for 2011!

I am not a food blogger.

But, I think food bloggers are cool. They make my life easier.

There is nothing better than a tried and true recipe, with step-by-step instructions and photographs....especially if you are kind of impaired when it comes to cooking. Like me.

Which is why I will never be a food blogger, but will love food bloggers FOREVER.

My all time favorite: The Pioneer Woman

Check her out, but don't cheat on me and then leave me for her because it will break my heart.

Anyhoo, today, I MUST share a recipe.

It is one of those dishes that is prepared at least once a week around our house.

The ingredients are always on hand and it is loved by everyone around the table!

The most important thing is that is always made by someone else beside me - insert happy face.

We call it THE MARTHA.


As in, "tonight, we are having grilled steaks, baked potato and THE MARTHA".

Around here....that means.....Martha Henry's original recipe "tossed" salad.

But it isn't ordinary and I highly recommend it.

Here it goes:

Toss together equal parts of baby spinach and chopped romaine lettuce (amounts vary according to desired servings and don't forget to wash it first).

Add thinly sliced red onion, to taste.

Add thinly sliced apple, to taste.

Throw in a generous portion of crumbled blue cheese.

The main ingredient is a couple of handfuls of roasted, sugared and spiced pecans....make your own OR buy some (my preference).

Finally, combine with a light coating of Newman's Own Olive Oil Vinagrette.

Easy. Breezy. Delicious.

And your kid (teenager, husband, toddler) can make it.

Well, at least I think it is possible that at least ONE person in your family, besides yourself, can make it. There are, of course, those family members who chose to be spectators to the meal preparation and sit on the sidelines and play Snake or Family Feud or Bejeweled Blitz.

I'm not mentioning any names, of course.

One last thing.

I asked Martha to take a bow....but naturally this is what I got....

There! I made your life easier - I hope.

Go pour yourself a glass of wine.


The Sound of Music - One of My Favorite Things!

Today is one of those days.

I woke up feeling.....blah.

I think it is the post Christmas blues.

There is a giant stack of "stuff" to do sitting on my desk.

I have another stack on the floor, on the chair, in the closet and on the stairs.

We have no food in the house. That would be my job, too.

I feel fat. It has been two weeks since I went to the gym.

I ate a pound of bacon this morning and a pound of pasta last night.

By myself.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

I think I will try posting the turkey picture....

I do love that these animals wander into my back yard.




That didn't cheer me up too much.

What about my puppy, Daisy?

Sweet. But not really doing the trick either.....

Country roads? South Carolina? Cotton blossoms?

Warm bread. Good health. Comfy bed. Soft pillows.

I confess that the only thing that makes me feel better on a "blah" day is to count my blessings.

My mama taught me that.

Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens.....

Living at the beach in the summer. And the rest of the year, too!

Pedicures, plane tickets, fire pits, friendships, family, my twin sister.

She was born first....9 years before me....but she is my twin.

Garlic! Olive Oil! Tomatoes! Dove chocolate!

Wait. No more food references....I just remembered the bacon. Ugh.

Spanish moss, invisible fencing, farmers' markets, sportsmanship.

Life! Ahhhhh......

I feel a little better. Thanks for listening.

Happy New Year. For each of us, I pray that 2011 is filled with a bounty of blessings and a wagon load of wonders....that will warm our hearts on dreary days and put a smile on our faces.

When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things.......

And then I don't feel, sooooo bad!