The Labor Day Weekend, During Which We Labored


I think I logged an entire three hours’ worth of sleep last night, and I’m fairly certain that I’m going to live to regret the cup of coffee with extra sugar and cream that I had at 5:00 this evening.  I wish that I could say that I was up all night, doing something fabulously wonderful, like polishing the diamonds on my tiara, but the honest truth is that I just couldn’t sleep.

And I, who has never been good at performing great feats of heroic math in my head, suddenly became a mathematics wizard at 3:00 this morning, as I laid there in bed, involved in ALL THE NOT SLEEPING, and thought to myself, “If I fall asleep in the next sixty seconds… and if Thing 2 sleeps in until 6 AM… I could get exactly three hours of sleep.”  And then, at 3:15, I was reworking the problem, using different variables, and realizing that MAYBE I was actually using algebra for the first time since my college graduation.

If X, then Y.

If I fall asleep at 3:40, and Thing 2 sleeps in until 6:15…

All I know is that it was a long night, and I feel completely ready to take the final in any Algebra I class.

Also, I can’t believe that it’s the TOTAL END OF Labor Day Weekend now, because WHERE HAS THIS YEAR GONE?  And HOW IS IT SEPTEMBER ALREADY?

On Friday night, Small Town High School’s football team was playing at home, and Hubs and I had some giant plans to take the boys and eat over-priced hamburgers at the stadium, in the name of supporting the booster club.  But then Thing 2 threw a monkey wrench into the entire mapped-out plan, because he got the diarrhea.

Do you know what I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WANT to have in the stadium of a football field?

That would be a toddler who is exploding diapers like they were soda cans at a gun range, because HAVE YOU EVER HAD ONE OF THOSE SITTING IN YOUR LAP?  Sometimes the Pampers just can’t hold all the poo, so it winds up all over your good jeans.

So… Hubs took the boy and one of his buddies to the game, while an other-than-the-diarrhea-I-feel-just-fine Thing 2 and I stayed at home for our own date.  We had Lucky Charms for dinner, because Hubs wasn’t around to protest an evening meal of cold cereal, and I explained what leprechauns are to our toddler.

I may or may not have used Garth’s voice from Wayne’s World when I did so.

Our hometown boys creamed their opponents on Friday night, so all was well in Small Town, even if I didn’t get a hamburger for supper.

On Saturday, while the boy was hanging out with a friend of his, Hubs and I took Thing 2 on a bike ride.

If you haven’t been on a bike ride with an energetic boy toddler lately, let me refresh your memory of what it is like.

We stopped our bike repeatedly and caught 642,000 ants.  We threw 56,000 rocks.  We turned the hubs on the bike’s wheels, engaging the four-wheel-drive mechanism, and went off-road 19,400 times.  We picked up 391 sticks.  We beheaded 8 wildflowers.  We put our finger in bird poop once.  We rode the snot out of the bike.  AND… we came home with nearly thirty-three-and-a-half-million stickers, weed pieces, dirt chunks and cockle-burs in our curly hair.

IMG_8783 IMG_8785 IMG_8787 IMG_8791 IMG_8792 IMG_8799 IMG_8801 IMG_8803 IMG_8804 IMG_8805 IMG_8806 IMG_8809 IMG_8813 IMG_8816 IMG_8821 IMG_8822 IMG_8826 IMG_8828 IMG_8831 IMG_8832 IMG_8835 IMG_8841 IMG_8842 IMG_8844 IMG_8846 IMG_8848 IMG_8850 IMG_8865 IMG_8867 IMG_8869 IMG_8873 IMG_8876 IMG_8882 IMG_8885 IMG_8894And then we went to the automatic car wash, which is exactly as fun as Christmas morning is for Thing 2.

We spent our Saturday and Sunday afternoons planting new trees in the pots that flank either side of our front door, since the original ones I had growing there went to be with Jesus.  I have no idea why those tiny trees died, because they had been happy and content and JUST FINE in the pots on our patio for the past four entire years.  And then… boom!  As soon as August dawned, those trees turned brown, threw their needles down, exposed their naked trunks to the entire neighborhood, and gave up the ghost.

Now I have new pine trees in our patio pots, and I’m hoping that they’re better behaved than their suicidal predecessors were.

We also planted mums in pots, forced the boy to mow the yard, knocked out two wasp nests, weeded the flower beds, and power-washed the deck, the patio, and the driveway.

In other words, GOOD TIMES.

But we had College Town’s football game on the radio all Saturday afternoon, and they pulled off a victory, too, so our teams are off to fantastic starts this season.

On Sunday evening, we went to Hubs’ parents’ house for dinner.  Hubs grilled ribs.  I’m sure that they were perfectly delicious and all, but I can’t do ribs, because BONES, Y’ALL.


Today, after an absolutely sleepless night, during which I practiced every manner of mental math, as I calculated how many minutes of sleep I could possibly get by FALLING ASLEEP RIGHT NOW!  RIGHT NOW!  RIGHT NOW!!!!!, we scrubbed our house.

It’s because we had taken on the look of a frat house on a Sunday morning.

My mom showed up this morning, claiming that she had nothing to do, and she just opened up my closet and pulled our vacuum cleaner out.  That’s the kind of thing that Mam just DOES, because she is very devoted to cleanliness, and because her love of helping others MUST be expressed.  Her crown in heaven is going to be bigger than yours and mine.

When we were done, the house sparkled.  The floors had a heavenly glow to them.  The bathrooms smelled of Clorox and geraniums, and there were NO toothpaste splatters on the mirrors.  The laundry was well on its way to being finished.  The throw pillows were artfully arranged on the sofa, exactly like a home decorator had stopped by.  There was exactly zero-point-zero Matchbox cars on the floors or parked beneath our coffee table.  There were no wooden Popsicle sticks out of a fudge bar stuck to the counters or the floors, where they are usually abandoned.  Fresh towels hung on every towel bar that we own.

I won’t lie to you…

I desperately wanted to tell the three boys that I live with to go get themselves a hotel room, because IF ONE SINGLE CRUMB OF ANYTHING IS DROPPED ONTO MY SHINY HARDWOOD FLOORS, I WILL CUT YOU.  I wanted to yell, “Go sleep at the Hilton, you filthy boys, and take your nightly fudge bars and the messy sticks that come inside of them with you!!!”

Of course, Hubs decided that I didn’t mean it, and he made jambalaya for dinner, which involved messing up the kitchen counters, as he threw down cutting boards and hauled out knives and had a couple of pots simmering on the stove.

It was enough to make me need a paper sack to breathe into.

And now, here it is, pretty much bedtime.

With any luck at all, my math skills will come out with the answer X EQUALS EIGHT ENTIRE HOURS.

Happy Monday night.

Just Some Things

This week seems to be beating us up.

I’m always so enthusiastic for that first week back to school, because it’s New Year’s Day’s sister.  As in, FRESH START!  FRESH START!  You can make a ton of New Year’s resolutions, and you can make a ton more when school starts in the fall.  Every year I pack the refrigerator and pantry with ALL THE HEALTHY FOOD we’ll be eating, because SCHOOL IS IN SESSION!, and I drag that old crockpot (the workhorse of the school week) out of the cabinet and fill it with every manner of wholesome goodness, because I am PREPARED and READY and I’VE BROUGHT MY “A” GAME TO THE ARENA.  I iron shirts and shorts for school, and the house is clean, and we take showers earlier than ever before, because we are ON TOP OF OUR GAME, and bedtimes are on time, and here’s some hummus and a bag of carrots for your snack, and LOOK AT US!!  It’s a Stepford Wife in the middle of the perfect family of Waltons.

We were that family last Sunday night.

And now it’s all, “GET OUT OF BED!  SCHOOL STARTS IN TWENTY MINUTES!”  Apparently, the parents should be up, because fourteen-year-olds can’t drive themselves yet.  And this morning, I looked in our pantry and handed Thing 2 a lunchbox-sized bag of potato chips for his snack, because WHAT ELSE WAS THERE?  And also, WHO IS GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE THIS WEEK?  And WILL ANYONE BE WASHING SOCKS, OR ARE WE BUYING NEW ONES AT WALMART?

I think the wheels have already fallen off of that back-to-school, bright yellow bus.

Except I did put dinner in the crockpot first thing this morning, so LOOK AT ME SHINE!


I just have a few things tonight, because I need to sign eighteen more permission slips for field trips and six more papers stating that I have, indeed, gone over the class requirements with my child, and we will not be surprised to hear that he will be sent home if he wears spaghetti straps to school.

1.  The boy’s big news this week is that he was invited to start practicing with the high school’s golf team, and he’s JUST an 8th grader.

It took everything in me to PULL THE REIGNS BACK, GLADYS, and NOT snap a picture of him at the golf course when I dropped him off, as he went off with the Freshman and JV teams for an afternoon of practice, but the boy let me know that HIGH SCHOOLERS PROBABLY FROWN ON YOUR MOM TAKING YOUR PICTURE AT PRACTICE.

And then I remembered the whole concept of snapping up your acid-washed, denim jacket, flinging your hair that didn’t fling (what with the four gallons of aerosol Aqua Net you’d used that morning) over your shoulder, stomping in your Keds without the shoelaces, and turning up the volume on Bon Jovi in your walkman, as you marched away from your mother and said, “Please don’t embarrass me.”



Just PRETEND that this stock picture from our summer’s archives of the boy is one of him practicing with THE HIGH SCHOOL GOLF TEAM TODAY, EVEN THOUGH HE’S JUST A JUNIOR HIGH BOY!!

And pretend that you can hear the golf coach saying in the background, “The golf pro who gave the boy lessons this summer told me that I need to get to know this kid, because he golfs as well as anyone I have on the Freshman and JV teams right now.”

IMG_7356My boy is officially one step closer to the PGA Tour, and winning enough money to buy his mama a Coach purse.

2.  My first week back at PE went smoothly, but I won’t sugarcoat things:  I pretty much felt like I’d been tackled by a 400-pound lineman who eats chicken bones for breakfast.  This has definitely been the week of MAMA’S TIRED, SO WE MAY BE BUYING SOCKS AT WALMART THIS WEEK INSTEAD OF WASHING THEM AFTER ALL.

My classes are all filled with kiddos who are cute as buttons, and I’m in love with them.

Yesterday, one of my second graders had a knot in his sneaker’s shoelace that qualified him for WORST KNOT OF EVER status.  It took me a sweet forever to help him get it out, and I began to panic that my manicure was going to die a violent death.  After I’d broken a sweat, thought approximately nine different curse words in my head, and was ready to ask the coach to either put in the replacements or USE SCISSORS, the knot came out of that shoelace.  When I handed him his tennis shoe back, the little guy looked at me and said, “Thanks, Mom!”  And then he turned nineteen different shades of red and sputtered, “Ah… I mean… um… you know…”

I think he slammed his palm across his face and whispered, “I just called my PE teacher MOM.”

His second grade career can only go up from here.

3.  My friend, Amy, and I went to see the movie If I Stay last night.  Amy and I are famous for clutching one another’s arms and hands and sobbing our brains out in sad movies, but I couldn’t work it up in this one.

Which, I suppose, was fine, because Amy cried enough for three people.  I kept feeling tears shoot out of my left eyeball, but not my right one, and WHAT ON EARTH?!  How does anyone cry out of one eye, if neither of them is made of glass?

So, I really have no idea how to rate this movie for you, if you haven’t seen it yet.  Amy would call it a WHOLE BOX OF KLEENEX flick, even though we forgot to bring tissues, so she had to use her sweatshirt’s sleeve, and I just used my index finger to wipe a few tears off of my left cheek a couple of times.  I guess you’ll just have to go MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, and know that you’re either going to sob uncontrollably… or you’re not.

But movies with Amy are always fun, because we like the exact same shows.  We NEVER walk out of the theater with differing opinions.  Ever.  Even last night.  I didn’t cry as much as she did, which just indicates FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING, but we both loved it, and now I want to take cello lessons.  I can truly see Amy and I as 92-year-old women, clutching one another in the theater, bawling over some high school prom movie, because we’re the only two grownups I know who still appreciate Teen Drama Shows.

4.  Thing 2 has become a POTTYING MACHINE, y’all!!

He has worked his way through a big bag of M&Ms this week, because he’s constantly PEEING ON THE BIG BOY POTTY!  In fact, he’ll look at me, tell me that he wants some M&Ms, and then he’ll run to the toilet.  He’s still wetting his diaper in between M&M runs, but goodness!  He’s not even officially two-and-a-half yet, and the boy was NEARLY THREE before he even tinkled a single time on the potty.

(Have I ever mentioned that potty training the boy was THE VERY WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE???)

I’m still approaching Potty Training, Volume 2 with a laid back, at-ease style, because I don’t want to jinx it, but listen!  On Sunday, our adorable toddler tinkled twice on the potty.  On Monday, he went FIVE ENTIRE TIMES!!  And Tuesday and Wednesday, even though I was working, we still got in four tinkles each day.  Today, we’ve only had three, but we’ve cheered like college students celebrating a blowout score at a home game.

And that’s going to do it for this week, y’all.

We’re going to take Labor Day Weekend to buy some real groceries, because, in the words of the boy, “It would sure be nice to be a normal family again who actually has a box of cereal in their pantry.”  We’re also going to do some laundry, buy a bigger bag of M&Ms, and hit a high school football game.

And then we’re going to just hang out with our boys, because MMMM!  I love just being with those two kids of ours.

Y’all have a great holiday weekend.  Be safe.

Did You Try Rebooting?

It’s no secret that I live in the middle of Technology Experts.

Hubs and the boy know some things.  They know how to bring sound back to my tablet, when it quits making sounds and the settings LIE TO ME and indicate that HELLO!  THE SOUND IS ON!  They know how to access programs on the DVR, because they know the whole “press-this-button-on-this-remote-then-press-this-button-on-that-remote-blink-your-eyes-nineteen-times-and-press-this-button-on-the-third-remote” process to actually enter the DVR.  They know the answer to why we actually have so many remotes to control a single TV in the first place.  They know how to use the Hopper to put live TV on their smart phones, so that they can watch the Denver Broncos while we’re in church.  They know which wires to cut when they have to diffuse bombs, they know where spark plugs actually go, they know how to use Remote Access to get onto another person’s computer that is fourteen hundred entire miles away from them, they know how to build things called SERVERS, they know how to write secret codes to make computers do their bidding, and they can figure out why the LG refrigerator’s ice maker is dying.

(For the record?  I can no longer endorse ANY LG product.  They are all dead to me.)


(The LG phone I once had.  The LG dishwasher that is currently taking up prime real estate in our kitchen, but which does not work.  The LG refrigerator, whose ice maker is in desperate need of an exorcism.  I hate them all.)

(I’m sorry LG.  It’s not me.  It’s you.)


I know NOTHING about technology, unless it involves turning the computer on, buying a shirt off of Ralph Lauren’s website, checking my email, playing Words With Friends, or pinning casserole recipes that I’ll never make on Pinterest.  My lone tool for troubleshooting is DID YOU TRY REBOOTING?

If rebooting fails, I throw my hands up into the air and quit.  And then I put my giant robe on, take my mouth guard out, use the Gatorade bottle to squirt water over my head, and crawl out of the boxing ring, while I make plans to wait for my people to come home and help me.


… when I saw THIS the other day, I actually laughed.  It was a genuine LOL, instead of the “I’m-typing-LOL-but-I-did-not-actually-do-any-laughing-at-all” response.

ScreenShot2013-03-29at92923AM_zps2e5942a1Sometimes we see ourselves reflected in a text message…

… and there I am.

Oklahoma, people.  Oklahoma.

Y’all have a happy Wednesday evening.

The Ice Bucket Challenge


I went back to teaching PE today, and I’m not going to lie.

Do you remember the scene in the movie Overboard, where Goldie Hawn is a bit… ah… lethargic, after having tried hard work for the first time?

maxresdefaultThat was pretty much me when I came home today.

What I wanted to do was put on a pair of baggy pajama pants and a fluffy bathrobe at 4:00 this afternoon, crawl into my bed, and have room service bring a cheeseburger to my door, but then I remembered that I’m the mom around here, and the boys in my life were hungry.


I think it all hit in PE, when I asked my brand new pre-k’ers, “Does anyone know what kinds of things we do in gym class?” and someone shouted out, “My uncle’s name is Jim!”  And then I said, “The volleyball net is going to be up in the gym for a while, because the junior high girls are playing volleyball for a while yet.  We’ll have the net to work around until Halloween,” and someone else said, “I’m going to be a princess for Halloween!” and another one said, “I want to be a pirate with blood all over for Halloween, but my mom said that I can’t have blood, because blood is violent.”  And then I said, “And if we ever need to leave the gym for any reason… like to go to the bathroom… we must ALWAYS ask first, so that I know where you are at,” and fourteen of them all said, AT THE EXACT SAME TIME, “I have to go potty!”

And then one of my third graders asked me, “Are we ever going to square dance in PE?”

Um… no.  This is not Hee Haw, and Hubs and I flunked our ballroom dancing class.

Other than that, the first day of PE was fantastic.

In other news, we joined the national bandwagon movement of the Ice Bucket Challenge.  Hubs’ office was challenged to have buckets of ice water dumped over their heads, in order to promote awareness of the disease ALS, and to raise money for research.  Then our friends, Paul and Katie, challenged their youngest daughter, Avery, and the boy to take a bucket of water over their heads, so we trucked ourselves on up to their house last night.

The boy’s primary goal was to NOT BEHAVE LIKE A DRAMATIC GIRL and NOT TO SCREAM AND FLAP HIS ARMS IN GONE WITH THE WIND HYSTERICS when the ice water hit him.

I think he nailed it.

IMG_8700 IMG_8702 IMG_8704 IMG_8705 IMG_8706 IMG_8707 IMG_8708 IMG_8709 IMG_8711 IMG_8713 IMG_8714 IMG_8715 IMG_8716Afterward, we turned the kids loose in the backyard, because FENCED IN!

Which means that Thing 2, who was already in his pajamas, due to an unfortunate incident of him feeding himself mashed potatoes for dinner and needing an early bath PRONTO, got to run around all he wanted.

IMG_8719 IMG_8722 IMG_8723 IMG_8724 IMG_8740 IMG_8744 IMG_8755 IMG_8774 IMG_8781And now we’ll write a check to send in for ALS research, and we’re done, because between Hubs and the boy, our family has taken all the ice water to the head that we intend to take.

Mainly, because I WILL demonstrate enough dramatic hysteria to look like Dynasty meets Gone With The Wind meets Fourteen Year Old Pack of Girls.

And with that, people, I really am going to call it a night.  I’m going to call Room Service, and see if they can’t maybe bring a hot fudge sundae to my door.

Happy Tuesday, y’all.

And… They’re Off!


IMG_8692… I sent him off to the 8th grade today.

THE 8th GRADE!!!!

He needs a haircut, in the worst way, but he had a good day, and he was excited to see all of his buddies in one place again, because, HELLO, SOCIAL CHILD OF MINE.

He’s taking advanced science, advanced math, advanced history, and REGULAR English.

I’m not sure that I contributed ANYTHING to his gene pool.  I don’t even understand the function keys on the calculator, and geometry proofs caused me Serious Frustration, but if you need your sentence diagrammed… then I’m your girl.

IMG_8694This is THE.  LAST.  YEAR.  before he’s in high school.

I hope it’s the slowest year of EVER, because I’m not sure how I can explain the fact that I’m only twenty-four… and yet I have a freshman.  I’ll have to start telling people that he’s my little brother, and upping the time I spend with my stylist and that pot of color that she brushes onto my hair.


I’m glad that he had a terrific first day of the eighth grade.

And look at everyone else!

Here’s Cousin W, who is the REAL high school freshman in this family:

WTBAnd then here’s the rest of the junior high crowd, as all three of these kiddos started 6th grade this year…

Cousin L:

IMG_2786And Cousin M:

McCAnd Cousin R:

IMG_2780Cousin B is an 8th grader this year, too, because he and the boy were born just a few months apart.

BPBThe elementary school crowd is kind of sparse this year in our family.

Miss A is a 4th grader now…

ALB… and Cousin K started the 3rd grade this morning.

IMG_2784I remember when Sister and I, and my sisters-in-law, were all VERY YOUNG GIRLS, with babies and toddlers running around together.

And now look at us!  We’ve put the bulk of everyone in the junior high school, and Big Cousin H is a COLLEGE FRESHMAN THIS YEAR!

IMG_4562Apparently it’s time for us to sign up for the shuffleboard league at our local senior centers and start slamming Metamucil cocktails in the evenings, because HOW ON EARTH DID ALL THIS OLD AGE CREEP UP ON US?

Thank goodness we have Thing 2 and Little Cousin H around to keep us young.

IMG_7553 IMG_7559 IMG_7584And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pull my dentures out, throw an afghan over my cold knees, and get ready for Murder, She Wrote on rerun.

“It’s A School Night.” (I Haven’t Said That Since May.)

Well, we stretched it out for as long as we possibly could, and we milked it for every ounce of fun it contained, but now we have to put Summer Vacation ’14 to bed.  It’s done.  It’s over.  It was great while it lasted.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll be running around our house in a state of early-morning panic, making ham sandwiches because someone refuses to buy his lunches at school, because he’s convinced the junior high cooks will poison him dead with hamburger that’s been stretched a little further by adding Spam and oatmeal and cornmeal, exactly like grandmothers in the Great Depression did things.  I predict that the phrase, “Will you just hurry up?” will fly out from between my lips thirty-nine times before 8 AM.  It’s why the Good Lord gave man the knowledge on how to invent the Keurig and blessed us with Starbucks.

(And all the people said, “Amen.”)

School starts tomorrow, and Hubs and I will officially own an 8th grader.  Don’t ask me how this happened, because just yesterday I was buying him size 5 jeans from Gap Kids, and now those pants fit him like an indecent pair of gym shorts.  The boy has grown up; he’s all legs and skinny shoulder blades and ENDLESS HUNGER, and he no longer pops out of bed with the enthusiasm of a child on Christmas morning when school begins.  In fact, I fully expect the boy to shuffle out of bed tomorrow morning, looking like Cousin Eddie after a rough road trip in the RV, and grumbling that the state has done him an injustice by requiring that first hour starts before lunchtime.

In other news, our toddler is also growing up, because, PEOPLE!!!  Let me just LEAP FOR JOY and FLING CONFETTI and ENCOURAGE THE CROWD TO APPLAUD!  After four grueling months of practicing with nothing but dry runs, Thing 2 really and truly TINKLED IN THE BIG POTTY FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS MORNING!!!

We had M&Ms in every color for breakfast, just to celebrate.

I won’t lie; I doubted that this day would ever happen.  Potty training the boy will forever be known as one of the darkest times in my life, when I wanted to pull my own eyebrows out, hair by hair by hair.  The boy would literally sit for hours on the toilet, but he REFUSED to do anything there.  He’d sit. He’d read books.  He’d talk to me until the rancher brought his cows in for the evening, but NOTHING would land in the water.  As soon as he got off of the potty and pulled the big boy, Star Wars underwear back up… he would immediately fill them with every manner of foulness.  In the end, I lost my marbles and asked our family physician for a referral to the asylum.  I threw my hands up into the air, and I announced to Hubs, with tears and snot running down my face in a bad case of Dramatic Hysteria, that I was GIVING UP on all the potty training, and that I QUIT.

Three days after throwing in the towel and putting the boy back into pull-ups, he potty trained himself.

And we were done.

In all honesty, the remembrances of those dark ages has haunted me since Thing 2′s second birthday.  We have been trying with him.  We’ve approached the entire issue on a much more casual basis, because Thing 2 is the second born child, so his parents’ enthusiasm has waned some.

And by some, I mean quite a bit.

And by quite a bit, I mean that it’s pretty much gone.  The thrill of the potty training train has left the building.

Hubs and I have sat Thing 2 on the big toilet every single day for the past four months, and he has shown every sign of complete and utter stage fright and performance anxiety in existence.  He has told us that the big potty is scary.  He has told us that he likes diapers.  And I have started to wonder if the cooks at the asylum stretch their hamburger a little further, with Spam and oatmeal kneaded into it, or if I’ll be getting gourmet cheeseburgers for dinners there.

And then this morning…

… Hubs plopped Thing 2 onto the toilet again

… and then he hollered out, “WE’RE GONNA NEED SOME M&Ms!!!!!  WE’VE GOT A TINKLER!!!!!!”

Prince would’ve been so proud of us, because we partied like it was 1999.  There was applause and whoops and hollers and cheers and hugs.  Thing 2 even got in on the action and clapped enthusiastically for himself.

And then this afternoon, he announced, “Go potty in diaper.”

I won’t lie.

I felt the nervous twitch return.


Our weekend was wonderful.

On Thursday night, our thirteen-year-old friend, Ciara, asked me to come snap pictures at her back-to-school luau party, and I didn’t even hesitate to shout out, “YES!  I will be there!!!”  The thought of an all-girl party delighted my soul to its very depths.  I never get to attend parties without stinky teenage boys.

IMG_7983 IMG_7804Not ONCE did any of these girls make a reference to body functions.

There was no obnoxious burping, followed by obnoxious, howling laughter.

There were absolutely no sulfur-like smells, as someone shouted out, “Must’ve been that four-pound burrito I ate for lunch!”

It was marvelous.

Cousin L was there, dressed in her finest grass skirt.  She’ll be starting junior high tomorrow morning, too, which freaks me out a little bit, because WHAT?!  I just changed her diaper last week and rocked her to sleep, while she smelled like lavender baby lotion, and now she has her own locker?!

IMG_7854(The honest fact is that Cousin L, and Cousin R and Cousin M will ALL be starting junior high this fall, because our family birthed three babes that year.)

(I feel like an old aunt.)

(An old aunt with a heart ache over these children growing up.)


There was a limbo at Ciara’s luau.

IMG_8231What I learned is that junior high girls can definitely limbo.  I was invited to participate, but the dispatcher and an ambulance would’ve had to get involved, had I accepted.

So I just snapped pictures.

The hips of the elderly don’t limbo any longer.

But look!  The Winner of the Limbo was lifted high into the air and paraded around the yard.

IMG_8314There were games where you had to eat sour stuff…

IMG_8133… and where you had to eat applesauce without the help of a spoon.

IMG_8065 IMG_8050 IMG_8046There was a game of pyramid-building…

IMG_7967… and a great buffet line.

(The best comment of the evening was this one:  “Um, I really want some grapes, and they’re in those sand buckets on the table.  I was just wondering if those are CLEAN buckets, or if they just came out of the sandbox.”)

(At an all-boy party, NO ONE would have thought to check on this before eating the grapes.)

(Thankfully, Ciara’s mom had purchased BRAND SPANKING NEW buckets, in honor of the luau.)

(Whew.  The grapes were fine.)

IMG_8171 IMG_7922 IMG_8359I had an absolute blast hanging out with this giant group of junior high girls all evening.

Then, on Friday, we turned right around and celebrated Cousin K’s 9th birthday a bit early.  He’s not officially nine until next weekend, but when your birthday falls over the Labor Day holiday, you’d better invite your friends over early, before they split town for one last Summer Hoorah.

IMG_8617 IMG_8618 IMG_8622 IMG_8634 IMG_8639 IMG_8645And???

Because there were BOYS at this party, someone gave Cousin K a…

… ahem…

fart gun.

(“I said DART gun!”)

(Bonus points, if you know what movie that’s from.)

IMG_8661 IMG_8660The boys used the new I SAID DART GUN nonstop for the remainder of the party, and laughed like hyenas at a comedy night.

Poor Sister is in for DAYS of hearing the battery-operated sounds of severe stomach distress, I’m afraid.

IMG_8645 IMG_8665 IMG_8675And?

Would you check this out?

Because look whose toddler ASKED FOR AN APPLE INSTEAD OF PIZZA!!!

I’m fairly certain this means I’ve got that Mother of the Year ’14 trophy in the bag.

IMG_8680And then, after partying like crazy on Thursday and Friday, Saturday dawned all dark and cloudy and rainy.

It was a STAY INDOORS AND DO NOTHING sort of day, which is exactly what happened.

The boys watched Donald Duck on the iPad.

IMG_8687Hubs and I watched a marathon session of Will and Grace on reruns.

I did a couple loads of laundry.

And I made a pot of cheese and broccoli soup.

Our Sunday pretty much looked like our Saturday, too, except Hubs and I dashed off to see When the Game Stands Tall at the theater, while OUR 8th GRADER BABYSAT.

AND THAT, people, was our weekend.  If you’ll excuse me now, I have to go get everyone into bed, because… DID YOU HEAR?


Four Things. Because I Couldn’t Think Of Five Things.

I just have a few things for you tonight, so I’m going to pitch them out in a numbered list.

Numbered lists make my soul happy, because OCD, ANYONE?

1.  I think that I MAY have gotten about three hours’ worth of sleep last night.

The boy went to a birthday party which involved an outdoor movie and the kind of healthy BBQ fixings and snacks that make a mother like me hang her head in pure shame at my total negligence in this Life Area.  I don’t think any trans-fats or chemicals of any kind were made in the preparation of this meal, when I seem to think no party buffet is complete without a bag of fluorescent orange Cheet-O’s and Hawaiian punch-flavored drink mixes, that are supercharged with artificial dyes and that glow in the dark from their toxicity.  The boy got home a little after midnight last night, because he’s fourteen and seems to think he’s ready for the college lifestyle.  (It’s also because we adore the family who hosted the outdoor movie birthday party, and trust them completely with our son.)  I stayed up, waiting for him, because DFS would have raised an eyebrow at us, had BOTH of our fourteen-year-old’s parents been passed out cold with ALL THE SLEEP when he was dropped off.

This is the point in my life when I would like to crawl into a DeLorean time machine, set it for 1989, and tell my younger parents, “You know what?  I don’t think I’ll stay out late tonight.  I think I’ll actually be home around 8:00, so y’all can just go to bed early, like elderly people enjoy doing.  I don’t want to keep you up too much longer after Wheel of Fortune wraps up, waiting for me to come home.”

Because trying to stay up and wait for your teenager to walk through the front door?  IT’S EXHAUSTING, PEOPLE!  I haven’t deliberately stayed up until midnight since Prom.

Twenty-six seconds after the boy walked into our house, I was sound asleep on our sofa.

I woke up at 1:00 this morning, and migrated to my bed.

I woke up at 1:45 this morning, because Hubs was in our bathroom, rummaging around for Excedrin to fight a migraine off.  He was exactly as quiet as a drunken circus monkey, who was enthusiastically clapping his brass symbols together and singing an off-key rendition of “I’ve Got Friends In Low Places.”

I went back to the sofa at 2:00.

I woke up at 3:00, because Thing 2 opened his bedroom door and hollered out, “Hey, Mommy?  What are you doin’?”

It’s called SLEEPING, son.  It’s what  normal people try to do when it’s dark outside.

I tucked the toddler back into his bed and listened to him sing songs to himself until 4:00 this morning, which is when I finally fell asleep.

And then I woke up at 5:15… for the day… because OF COURSE I DID, seeing as how Thing 2 slept until 7:00, after his middle-of-the-night partying.

2.  I went out to dinner last night with the best batch of girls.  We all left our husbands and our children behind, and we sat down at a table decorated with fresh-cut flowers, candles, and real linen napkins that are washed in a Whirlpool, instead of being thrown into the garbage can, like everyone does at Burger King.  We laughed our heads off, until we couldn’t breathe.  We talked about what a crack-shot Melanie would be with a shotgun.  We sympathized with Katie, as we learned that her husband decided to “eat better” last week, and he dropped ten pounds in seven days, because NO ESTROGEN TO GET IN THE WAY, and WHY DID GOD MAKE THINGS LIKE THAT HAPPEN?

I ordered an $11 chicken curry salad with coconut curry dressing, on the side.

I’ve never been more thankful for the words ON THE SIDE before in my life, because do you know what I learned last night?  Coconut curry dressing tastes like lies and sin and death.  I know, deep in my heart, that I’m a real princess, and that I probably SHOULD enjoy gourmet food, like fancy salad dressings made from island coconuts, but listen:  I ended up asking for a tin cup full of Ranch, and BLESS MY HEART.  I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner after that.


Except then I tasted Heather’s meal, because she ordered something called Potato Gnocchi, which I can’t even pronounce correctly.  The sample from Heather’s plate made me want to carry my own salad back to the kitchen and say, “I’d really rather have what Heather’s having.”

Afterward, I ordered the Salted Caramel Vanilla Cake, and listen, y’all:  I wanted to bury my face in that cake and marry it.  It was THAT GOOD.

3.  The other night, Hubs and the boy went out with our friend Sam and his daughter, M, so that they could all fly radio-controlled airplanes together.  It was the Witching Hour, which is that hour before bedtime, when the toddler is restless and cranky and whiny, so I stayed behind, with enormous plans to put him in bed early.

I sent my camera with Hubs, and said, “Please snap some pictures tonight.”


Hubs took THREE pictures.


As in, one… two… three… all done.

I take thirty pictures, just to WARM MY CAMERA UP, before the real picture-taking begins.  The last time I took just three photos at any event was when 35 mm film was involved.

IMG_7779 IMG_7780 IMG_7781If you’d like to nominate Hubs for his incredible photojournalist skills… or submit one of these photographs to National Geographic, for their publishing consideration… please feel free to do so.

Also, y’all should totally check out M’s blog.  She’s a 6th grader (A SIXTH GRADER!!!), who has her own blog, because… well… she’s a rockstar when it comes to writing and telling stories.  Her blog can be found BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

4.  Do you know how there are homeless people who live in their cars?

My Suburban has reached that level of cleanliness.

And that’s going to about do it for tonight.  Y’all get some sleep and enjoy your weekend.

Kitchen Bar Stool: 1. Toddler: 0.

Of course, the moral of the story is that sometimes… when your mama has already told you SEVENTY-TWELVE THOUSAND TIMES that climbing on the bar stool, in order to reach things you shouldn’t be reaching, is actually A BAD IDEA… you should MAYBE  LISTEN TO HER.

Because sometimes the stool will buck you off, and you will end up with a super sweet shiner.

IMG_7783 IMG_7784 IMG_7782 IMG_7788 IMG_7787 IMG_7792 IMG_7793 IMG_7790 IMG_7799Of course, Thing 2 just thinks he looks TOUGHER with a black eye.

Y’all have a good Wednesday evening.

Turtle: It’s What’s For Dinner

Warning:  This blog post contains a single, disturbing image.

I felt like you should know.

In case you’re… like… a vegetarian or something.

Because THIS happened at our house for dinner one night this past week:

IMG_7149That would be one of the turtles that Hubs and the boy grilled up on the Traeger.  I’m not sure that anything sings the songs of love to the male soul quite like a giant hamburger patty wrapped in bacon, with some hot dog accessories shoved in around the edges for good measure.

I also felt like we had reached a new dinner low, because this is pretty much the stuff people in the swamps eat.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear our family physician calling in our cholesterol medication to the pharmacy.

Y’all have a good Tuesday night.

The Ribs Are Always Tastier On The Other Side Of The Dirt Road


We only have one more week of summer vacation, before it’s time to head back to school and actually use that new calculator with the algebraic function keys that was on our school supply list.

(Thank you, Advanced 8th Grade Math, Otherwise Known As Algebra I.  Whereas the school supply list for REGULAR MATH included two dirt-cheap notebooks, with your choice of fluffy kittens or Iron Man on the fronts, and a  #2 pencil, you were very specific in stating that the boy would need two five-subject notebooks, to the tune of SIX AMERICAN DOLLARS EACH, as well as a two-inch, three-ring binder, which is roughly the size of the binder NASA has to hold ALL of the printed documentation of the moon landing, a calculator with function keys and mechanical pencils.  August will go down as THE MONTH DADDY WORKED 40 HOURS A WEEK TO PAY FOR ALGEBRA STUFF, and let’s not even talk about how that Godzilla-sized binder is going to fit in a backpack.  It should have come with a built-in handle and wheels, and I have no idea HOW it’ll be lugged home every night.)

The honest answer is that it’s time to send the boy back to school, even in my mind.  Yes, I’ve enjoyed having him home all summer, because I can issue orders like, YOU FOLLOW BEHIND MY VACUUMING WITH THE MOP, and it happens.  And now I have to go back to doing my own mopping during the day, but listen.  Our summer break is officially at the point where the camp counselor has just run out of fun activities to do, and she’s left her group of children alone in the cabin to READ or WRITE A LETTER HOME or WHATEVER, because all the excitement of SCAVENGER HUNTS! and HORSEBACK RIDING! and ROCK CLIMBING! and FRIENDSHIP BRACELET-MAKING! and POTTERY! and CANOEING! and ARCHERY! that was so real at the beginning of the summer has tapered off to JUST NOTHING LEFT OF THE ENTHUSIASM, and all the counselor really wants now is a hot shower, any type of real jewelry that doesn’t involve cheap string and beads from the Walmart craft aisle, and a cold bottle of Zima with a Jolly Rancher watermelon candy poked down into it.

(I speak from the experience.  I worked as a camp counselor for too many years.)

(Also?  I think that last full paragraph was actually pretty much one long-winded sentence, but whatever.)

We really do need to get back into the groove of getting out of bed before 11 AM and eating something other than ham sandwiches for dinner, because it was 97 degrees at the park this afternoon and no one felt like turning on the stove.

(And I should clarify that it’s only the boy who is sleeping in until 11:00 in the mornings, because Hubs and I have Thing 2, and he rises in time to actually wake the rooster up.)


As a last push to milk this summer break for every ounce of fun it has in it, Hubs and the boys and I drove over the river and through the woods, and up the mountain and down the mountain this last weekend, to a giant PROFESSIONAL BARBECUE COOK-OFF.  I don’t think I’ve tried to hide the fact that Hubs wants to grill meat for gold medals and accolades and applause and three-foot-long, cardboard checks written out to the tune of twenty-five grand, which are presented to him by blondes in red-and-white-checkered aprons.  Hubs is a slave to BBQ shows on the Food Network.  He researches marinades and smoke times and wood pellet flavors, and we’ve reached a point in our lives where we can no longer enjoy a steak at any restaurant, because Hubs just grills them better at home.

So, when our friend Melanie said, “Yeah… there’s this pro BBQ going on,” we were in.

I believe Hubs’ exact words were, “I just want to go over there and SMELL IT ALL.”

Obviously, we are very classy.

And obviously the pro BBQ was very classy, too, because there was a car show going on, which you had to walk through in order to get to the food tents and the giant barbecues that are bigger than some single-wide trailers, and THIS was there:

IMG_2713THAT, people, is some kind of antique muscle car, with a very clean engine, and THREE tigers on top.  (I think I was supposed to notice something more than CLEAN ENGINE beneath the hood, but all those hoses and wires and fan belts confuse me, and make my brain cramp.)  Those tigers are not the low-grade stuffed animals, either, because they came straight from the upper rack at the carnival booth.  They clearly scream out, “OUR OWNER HAS A SWEET RIDE WITH NO REAL MUFFLER IN PLACE, AND HE CAN THROW A DART AT A BALLOON AND POP ONE, FIFTY-TWO TIMES IN A ROW.  WE’RE UPPER-DECK ANIMALS, AND HE WON OUR ENTIRE FAMILY OF THREE.”

And then Hubs paid ten dollars in cold, hard, backed-with-all-the-gold cash to secure this little cup of loveliness:

IMG_2718That is what is commonly called THE BBQ SUNDAE.  Lest you think that it’s a tiny cup of ice cream and toppings, let me set you straight.  It’s pulled pork, smashed in between layers of mashed potatoes, covered in barbecue sauce, and topped with bacon bits and a cherry tomato.

I’m fairly certain that these will be served at the next presidential inauguration ball.

Hubs made the rounds of all the food tents, and, after taking samples, declared himself more of a Barbecue King than anyone else there…

… until he crossed the dirt road with Darrell and Sister’s Husband and entered into the PROFESSIONAL BBQ COOK-OFF SIDE.  Lo!  He had just been on the amateur side of things, sampling sundaes covered in bacon pieces.  On the other side of the dirt road, he found a rack of ribs that he wanted to marry.  He came back with grease and sauce and flavor all over his chin and beard, and he was HAPPY.  He had met the big boys, who grill for real prize money.

Meanwhile, Sister and Melanie and I stayed on the amateur side of things, while the husbands were gone, where the shade was happening and where sodas were $3 each.  It was all about supply and demand, really.  When it’s 412 degrees outside, you become dehydrated and will shell out nearly any amount of money for a giant cup filled with seven pounds of ice and two ounces of Pepsi.

When Hubs came back to our simpler side of the dirt road, we had to break the news to him:  We had gone into debt by $726 because we were baking in the August temperatures, and we needed fluids.

AND… don’t judge us.

Because?  Have you ever had a toddler with as much energy as Thing 2 has?  Or the ability to dart into traffic and crowds like he’s a bolt of greased lightning?

Hubs and the boy and I were quite determined to still have Thing 2 at the end of the weekend, because we do adore that child tremendously, so we…

… ah…

… well…

used a leash.

Yes.  We used a leash, even though Hubs cringed in horror and declared that he couldn’t go through with it, because A TODDLER ON A LEASH??  It’s just wrong.  And I used to be there with him, but now I can’t throw rocks, because GLASS HOUSE, Y’ALL.

Glass.  Stinking.  House.

Except… That leash freed up our hands, and we could lower our vigilant attention just a touch, and holy sweet mother of WOW!  It just worked!

IMG_2714 IMG_2717 IMG_2735 IMG_2726Thing 2 felt like he had some freedom with that stuffed owl strapped to his back, and we felt like WE had some freedom, too, because I wasn’t chasing him nonstop in the desert-like heat.

We did, however, have to make the older kids rephrase their questions of, “Can I walk Thing 2 now?”  Because HE’S NOT A POODLE!  So the statement of the day became, “I’m going on a run with Thing 2 now!”

IMG_2721 IMG_2722 IMG_2733That pack of kids plum wore our toddler out!

Hubs and Cousin H also had a little discussion on how he could grill any chunk of beef or pork handed to him better than anyone on the amateur side of the dirt road could do.

Little H went along with him.  She’s still missing some molars required for eating brisket, so she just nodded in agreement to everything her uncle said, while she waited for someone to make the next $3 soda run.

IMG_2732 IMG_2730By the end of the day, Thing 2 was tired.

He’d been on forty-eleven runs with different big kids, while they held his leash.  He’d eaten one single bite of chicken all day, because WHO HAS TIME TO STOP MOVING TO ACTUALLY EAT AT THIS EVENT?  He had consumed his weight in Pepsi and ice cubes.  He had lost entire buckets of sweat.  He had thrown rocks and sticks, and he’d had a very fine day.

He snuggled up with Taylor, when a nap felt like it was unavoidable, even for him.

IMG_2738And then boom!

IMG_2711And that was our weekend, folks.

(I apologize for the blurrier-than-normal snapshots tonight, but I used the iPhone this weekend.  And my iPhone pretty much needs an exorcism, because it’s packing attitude and stubbornness these days.)