Dec 31, 2008

Have a Fat and Sassy New Year

Okay, my lovelies, don't ever say I never did anything for ya.

I think there's some kind of tradition that says you should eat black eyed peas on New Years day, right? Or did I dream that? I think it's something like,

"It is heretofore decreed, in the year 1808, that every year on January 1 you should eat black eyed peas, for they are good for you and pretty easy to cook and don't take up a lot of room on your plate. And they shall bring you good fortune. Especially if you sprinkle some hot sauce on the top of them, eat them with cornbread or cook them in bacon fat. For it should be known throughout the world that pork back is where it's at. So let it written - so let it be done."

At least that's what I think it probably says.

So this New Years Eve when you are out partying and wearing your best duds, when you are contemplating and journaling all of your resolutions, when you are sipping champagne at the stroke of midnight, or when you are - much like me - doing none of the above, this should make your New Years Eve or New Years Day celebration even better!

* I would like to give credit where credit is due. I got this recipe from Jessica. And although I didn't ask her permission to use it on my blog I feel fairly certain when she saw me lick the bowl clean at a party and then beg her for the recipe, that she knew this day was coming. It's that yummy!

So here you go, my lovelies, may your New Years Eve / New Years Day be as tasty as this!

Hot & Cheesy Black Eyed Pea Dip

1 (16-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained, rinsed

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 envelope buttermilk ranch salad dressing mix

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spoon into a baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.

P.S. Remi just walked into the room and said, "MOMMA! I could kill somebody!" I'm not sure what that means, nor do I want to, but I'm pretty sure she wants you to make this dip. Stat!

Dec 30, 2008

I Really Gotta Do Something About That Wig Head. It's Gonna Start Freaking Me Out.

The headline read, "Most Peculiar News Stories of 2008." It certainly caught my attention. I assumed it would be another story starring Kacey Anthony. Of course I suppose that would be "Most DISTURBING News Stories of 2008."

Oh, it was an interesting read alright. A family cremated their mom and continued cashing her retirement checks? Hey, it could happen. And a baby born on 8/8/08 weighing 8lb. 8oz.? Big deal. I mean, has anyone ever heard of the Anti-Christ?

But this?

This could not happen.

Not in my house, anyway.

TOKYO - A homeless woman who sneaked into a man’s house and lived undetected in his closet for a year was arrested in Japan after he became suspicious when food mysteriously began disappearing.

Police found the 58-year-old woman Thursday hiding in the top compartment of the man’s closet and arrested her for trespassing, police spokesman Hiroki Itakura from southern Kasuya town said Friday.

The resident of the home installed security cameras that transmitted images to his mobile phone after becoming puzzled by food disappearing from his kitchen over the past several months.
One of the cameras captured someone moving inside his home Thursday after he had left, and he called police believing it was a burglar. However, when they arrived they found the door locked and all windows closed.

“We searched the house ... checking everywhere someone could possibly hide,” Itakura said. “When we slid open the shelf closet, there she was, nervously curled up on her side."

The woman told police she had no place to live and first sneaked into the man’s house about a year ago when he left it unlocked.

The closet is part of a Japanese-style room, one of several rooms in his one-story house where the man lived alone — or so he had thought.

Police were investigating how she managed to go in and out of the house unnoticed, as well as details of her life inside the closet, and if she had taken anything else besides food.She had moved a mattress into the small closet space and apparently even took showers, Itakura said, calling the woman "neat and clean."

Uhhhh, what the?
Okay, let me countdown the ways that this would never / could never happen in my home.

10. No one - I repeat, no one - would want to live for one HOUR (let alone one year) in the top of my closet. Unless they liked being ensconced between maternity clothes, 3 boxes of clothes "I swear I'll be able to get back in to someday," some old Kenny Rogers cd's and a wig draped across a scary looking Styrofoam head (which can be used to torture some 2 year olds).

9. She would not just be arrested for trespassing. She would also be arrested for scaring the peewater out of me, listening to every argument the AG and I have had in the past year (since we prefer to have them in the closet) and seeing me naked. (Which now that I think about it, might mean she has suffered enough punishment for one lifetime.)

8. Okay, this was finally discovered by his installation of security cameras? And the pictures were sent to his cell?? Well, good for him. I for one cannot figure out how to charge my digital camera, I have dropped it twelve times and it will no longer zoom in or out, and I lose my cell phone at least three times a week. Needless to say - he was more equipped for this kind of thing than I would be.

7. When the house was finally searched they found her curled up in the top of the closet, on her side. See, again, this kind of thing would not have happened because of that stupid wig I have in the top of my closet would have thrown everyone off the trail. I really have to get rid of that thing.

6. Police were investigating how she went in and out of the house unnoticed. Hmmmm...does the man that owns this house have children? Cuz I gotta tell ya, you put two babies in that house and A LOT of things go unnoticed. At this very moment there could be a family of little people living in my dryer and I wouldn't have a clue. Seriously. If the man has small children there is a good chance she walked in and out of the house on a daily basis and was never seen. He may have even said things to her like, "Can you hand me that burp cloth," or "Would you try to flush that toilet one more time before it overflows," before he ever even realized she existed.

5. They were also checking to see if she had taken anything else besides food? Uhhhh, what about his privacy? His sanity? His ability ever pee again without the dreaded feeling that someone is watching him?

4. They want to know about her life inside the closet. "Well, there wasn't a lot to do. But thankfully, since he was Japanese there was a 42 inch plasma on the wall I could watch. Not to mention several digital cameras I could play around with. There might have even been a Toyota in there. But the clothes were ridiculous, they all hit me just above the ankles."

3. She took a mattress in there? Can we all just say together...How big was that stinkin' closet?

2. He said she was "neat and clean." Did you really expect him to say anything else? I mean, if she had been a holy mess and reeked of garbage and STILL went unnoticed in his house - then what does that really say about him?

And the number one problem I have with this story...

1. Did it honestly take him a year to notice food was missing in his house? Because I distinctly remember waking up my entire family over the Thanksgiving holiday and challenging them to a dual if they were the one that drank the last Dr. Pepper. So I'm fairly positive that if my eggs, loaf of bread and mayo kept coming up short, mamma's gonna have to hash it out with someone. And quickly.

Dec 29, 2008

I'm Too Relaxed To Remember the Holidays.

Santa came. Santa conquered.

And lived to tell about it.

Oh yes, it was a wild weekend here in the Stretch Marks casa. Between all the pajama wearing and nap taking, it's a wonder that I'm even able to write these words. Seriously, the most strenuous thing I did all weekend was get up and go to the restroom. That honestly might have been the only time I moved.

And it. was. wonderful.

I might even go on record as saying, that it was one of the best Christmas' I have ever had.
(There are probably 10 or so family members in Texas wishing they could throw tomato's at me, right now.) But it's true. This Christmas I did what I have waited yyeeeaaaarrrrssss to do. I celebrated with my family. My little family. Just my little bitty family.

We didn't have to make 14 pounds of corn casserole.
Or wrap 23 gifts.
We didn't have to get all dressed up for a humongous meal that takes everyone 8 minutes to eat.

We didn't have to do anything...that we didn't want to do.

Aaahhh, Christmas. What a selfish time. Just like God intended.

But I did get all homemakery. Which should shock and amaze both those who know me and the teacher I had in 12th grade Home EC class. She saw no hope in me whatsoever.

But hey teach! I did this. I really did! Of course I may be the only woman in the history of the world who had to Google "how do you bake sugar cookies." Oh yes, I did. And I made them from a package. But still, I was unsure how to do that whole "cut-out" thing. But look! I Googled it and it worked. They're b-e-a-uitful.

And yes, that is supposed to be a candy cane. Not a "fancy u" as Remi called it.

I even let Remi join in on the fun. Which is totally unlike me. If anyone is going to mess my kitchen up and get crap all over the floor, by cracky, it's gonna be me. But nope. I bit the bullet and let her in on the fun. And what did we discover? We discovered that Remi can make a mean pretzel/Rolo/M&M treat. And also that she has a severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder. Though we may have to save that story for a slow news day.

We got all sassy-fied and went out. Because nothing says Christmas, and I mean NOTHING, like your momma pulling out the Big Sexy hairspray and saying the words "Remi, just stand still while I tease it." The AG actually walked in the bathroom and said, "Did I just hear you say what I think you said?" I looked down in shame. But my baby was walking tall and poufy.

And then he came.
The big man.
The big cheese.
The name that has brought fear into our home for the past 8 weeks - and who will continue to be a threat used over the heads of small children in our home for years to come.

Say it with me now - SANTA.

*Note to readers: Please know that although little Rocco didn't stock up quite as much as Remi it wasn't becasue he wasn't cared for. It's because there are more toys for a 2 year old than a drolling, teething 3 month old. But there are two sets of grandparents that made sure he was spoiled silly. And what you can't see is his stocking is full to the rim with baby Orajel. So there!

And this Santa is way cool because he doesn't just drop off things in the living room like the lame duck Santa of the 80's. No, this guy is cool, clever. He even leaves things in your dining room. Where you least expect it.
Oh sure, he may scoot your dining room table out of the way and scratch your hardwood flooring, and yes, he and Mrs. Claus may go to bed a little at odds with each other. But hey! It's Christmas. And to quote my favorite Christmas line..."It's like my momma always said - it ain't Christmas till somebody cries."

Now, my lovelies. How was yours? I've missed you terribly.

Dec 24, 2008

My mom loves this picture.
Whenever she looks at it she laughs and calls me Benjamin Button.
She says it's because I look like a grumpy, 80 year old man. It's because she put me in a stinkin' button down shirt and a sweater.
If I'm dressed like an 80 year old, I'm gonna act like an 80 year old.

I'm honestly not normally as grumpy as I look in this picture.
To be honest I was in a pretty good mood.
But they snapped the picture moments before I pooped on Santa.
So had they taken this picture only 3 seconds later
you probably would have seen me smiling from ear to ear.

My sister is smiling. She's always smiling, though.
Usually it's because she's torturing me in some perverse way.
But in this case it was because she had just told Santa, "This is my brother Rocco, don't talk to him. And please bring me some toys and candy. Lots of candy because I teetee in the potty."

Of course she also may have been smiling because my mom was standing in the background waving a big, huge spanking spoon in the air like an idiot.

All that to say, my mom loves this picture.
She always looks at it and cries.
She says it makes her grateful to God for His goodness to us.
Especially to her.
Whenever she says that she seems to look at me for a long time; then she smiles and then she hugs me. I love it when she does that.

She says we are going to have a very Merry Christmas...
and she hopes you all do as well.
So do I.

And I'm not just saying that because she is
waving a big, huge spanking spoon in the air like an idiot.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Dec 23, 2008

Hey Mama, Whatchu Want?

My girlfriend Julie sent this to me last week, and although it's cute, it's not really me. I did add it for your viewing pleasure some of you might identify with it.

Dear Santa,

I've been a good mom all year.

I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground.

I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:
I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the Seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely.

It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,

P.S. One more can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in Santa.

But if I were to write a letter to Santa, it might sound a little more different. A little more ME. Some call it je na sais quoi. Whatever. Nonetheless, here it is.

Dear Big Daddy,

I have not been that great of a mom this year, but I'm hoping you know a little something about forgiveness and mercy. I could certainly use it. I mean, I haven't been horrible by any means, but I wouldn't qualify to win any awards or anything.

Now don't get me wrong - I have fed them. And yes! Cheese Puffs and broccoli are considered a well rounded meal.

I've cleaned them. Though they haven't always looked it. But hey! That ain't my fault.

And I've cuddled my children on demand. Okay, that's not actually true. Because usually if I cuddle them it comes with a price. And that price is that they cuddle me in return. So it's a wash.

I would prefer you not spread these items out over several Christmases, since I am girl who knows nothing about delayed gratification but firmly believes that we should try to get it all - and get it all at once.

Here's what I'm hoping for:

I'd like a new pair of legs. That's it, just a new pair of legs. A pair that look better. That's all I ask.

I would ask for arms that don't flap in the breeze but I'm not sure you've got that kind of time. Besides, I might need these mighty indestructibles from time to time when protecting myself from any move that Kung Fu Remi might be throwing my way.

I'd also like a waist. Maybe I've got one. I don't know. I haven't seen it since my mom made me wear that Mexican dress to my 8th grade dance. But I know I had one at one time. But it was pretty long ago and I'm pretty sure it left no forwarding address. So any waist will do.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like "people." A lady to clean my house. A man to mow my yard. A woman to do my laundry. And some really really big guy to stand in front of the television and yell, "NO! This TV don't play nuttin' but the Golden Girls. You got a problem with that?" Oh, and a butler who comes whenever I ring a bell, but doesn't ask silly questions like, "What can I get for you madam?" He just says, "Will that be buttercream icing or cookie dough?" And then finds it hysterical and girlishly delightful when I say, "Yes."

If you're bringing in really big ticket items I'd like a husband that wants to do his own laundry, prefers eating out and gets frustrated when I won't spend time reading vampire novels.

And if you're into really really big ticket items, George Clooney.

It would be super cool if you could somehow get my dog to bark the words "Don't hit him on the head, Remi". I only ask this because my dog won't shut up barking and I seem to go hoarse saying this all day - so one of us should come out a winner.

I hope it's not too late to find any of these things. Because I gotta tell ya, 2009 is gonna be a slow year if mama don't get at least one thing on this here list.

In the mean time, when you get to our place, make yourself at home. If you tracked in mud we'd never notice it and if your cookies crumble all over the floor, well, what else is new?

All my love,

Some women may feel the need to request that their kids believe in you all their lives. I know you'd like that, but Santa, let's be honest - that's just nonsense! However, you put George Clooney under my tree? I'll see what I can do.

So mama's - what do you want this year? You never know who might be listening.

Dec 22, 2008

Makin' Memories.

Oh, the traditions. The many, many traditions. You all are a Christmas Traditioning bunch of folks, I have to say. Whodathunkit?

Congratulations to the 14,000 of you who buy new pajama's and open them up on Christmas Eve night. And to the 1,100 who bake cakes on Christmas for Jesus. As I was reading all of the different suggestions I kept hearing these two in particular over and over. And please note, I never once said, "Well, I don't want to do anything that everyone else is doing." Nope. I actually said, "Where the heck have I been all these years? How come I didn't know about these things? And why did my parents never buy me any pj's?"

But ya know? I have a lot of bad memories from my childhood so I don't really want to get started on that. Like the time my dad wrapped my bra around the tree...that story is still deeply embedded in my psyche and so my therapist and I don't feel it best to explore that right now.

Oh, kid.

About the therapist.

NOT about the bra.

I thought Lynda's idea of not allowing the kids out of the bed until they heard the Christmas music playing was too cute! My best friend Nikki loved that idea too and now thinks she wants to try it. But she has seven kids and personally, I fear a trampling could easily happen and we'd find her broken body in a heap at the foot of her stairs. She'd just be standing there dumbstruck thinking, "Oh, look how sweet they all look coming down the stairs in their new pj's. Wait, they're not stopping! They're gaining speed! Why are they crushing me?" Ugly.

Sheri goes caroling - which I AM ALLLLLL FOR! Unfortunately, caroling by yourself appears strange to some folks and they refuse to open their doors. Or I suppose I could take Remi with me - but there's nothing ruder than knocking on someones door and saying, "Could y'all hold her and take her potty while I sing out here in your yard?" I tried it once. Didn't work. But if any of you that live near me are up for a little caroling - call me.

Now Kat's family always sung Christmas carols at midnight. Again, Nikki wants to try this. But I'm not sure singing Silent Night with seven children is a possibility. More power to her if she can make it happen, but I'm not betting on it. But Kat's family always did the whole carol thing and then lit candles. But that's all I'm going to say about that because Kat scrapbooks and so I think she knows I'm mad at her.

So many of you had such precious ideas. And it warms me to think of you and your family carrying these traditions on each year. Seriously, I'm warm right now. Almost toasty.

But here's what the AG and I have decided to do. Wish us luck.

Christmas Eve:

5PM: Start dinner. Something fun! And festive!

6PM: With dinner cooking in the oven, have Remi help mommy make those little pretzel/Rolo/M&M thingies.

6:15: Spank Remi. (It's inevitable)

6:30: Eat dinner. Smile! Make mommy feel like it's wonderful!

7:00: Sing a carol.

7:10: Fight with the AG in the closet, so the kids can't hear, as to why he refuses to sing the carols along with me.

8:00: Start a movie. White Christmas, maybe?

8:30: Spank Remi when she screams for Kung Fu Panda for the 108th time. (It's inevitable)

9:00: Open up one gift - NEW PJ'S!

9:30: Go in the room and slam the door because the AG bought Ma small when he
KNOWS she doesn't wear a small!

10:00: Put Remi in hers.

10:10: Change Remi out of hers when she spills apple juice all down the front and screams, "I'm WETTTT!! It's yucky! But it's not teetee...I promise!"

10:15: Put Rocco in his.

10:30: Change Rocco out of his when poo come out the sides of it.

11:00: Put the kids to bed, all while singing carols and smiling. Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

11:30: Sit on the couch and sulk because the AG is wearing brand new pj's and I'm in my old jogging pants because, again, I DON'T WEAR A SMALL!

12:00: Suddenly remember Santa needs cookies.

12:01: Decide I don't care, Santa can starve.

12:03: Go to bed.

Christmas Day

4:05 AM: Remi wakes up. Mommy is mad. Daddy is in a coma. And Rocco is screaming.

5:00: Remi comes down stairs to see what Santa left.

6:00: Stick in the breakfast Mommy spent 8 days getting prepared for.

7:00: Serve a toaster strudel when no one will eat Mommy's fancy breakfast.

9:00: Lay in a comatose like state on couch.

noon: Eat a nice, festive, holiday lunch. Wish secretly that it was Mexican food.

2 PM: Put the kids down for naps. Back to comatose state.

4:00: Try once more to sing carols. Family pays absolutely no attention to me and I give up by flipping channels.

6:00: Wonder why Santa brought 2 truckloads of toys to our house and the only thing she wants is, once again, Kung Fu Freakin' Panda.

7:00: Begin to think of what New Years day traditions we can begin.

See y'all? It will be wonderful. I feel sure of it. We've got sooooo much planned. And if we can fit it in between temper tantrums and Rice cereal spit-up then we are sure to make a memory.

I can't wait.

Thanks for your help. And my lovelies, wish me luck.

Dec 19, 2008

One Week.

It's one week until Christmas. And my hair is red.

Yes, that's RED. Not red as in "oh look how beautiful that fall color of red is," but more like, "Oh, look, it's Debra Messing's drunken sister."

But it's red because it's one week until Christmas.

And if you know me, and you love me, you don't ask me why my hair is red, you just accept it and tell me how beautiful it is - when secretly you hope to sweet goodness I change it back in a month. Or two. But you know that now is not the right time to tell me it's not the right shade, or I completely missed getting the color on 2/3 of it in the back, or that it washes me out to the extent that I may appear invisible to passersby.

But nope. You keep all of these things to yourself because you know - it's one week until Christmas.

And I tend to do things; things that aren't necessarily "me" for the other 352 days of the year. But things that are me, right now. And, well, I must admit, things that are cheaper than therapy.

Because, I'll be honest, I miss my boy.

And I know that one week from today I'll go to see the only thing that is left of him. A concrete marker. Except for that deep space in my heart. That seems to be left.

But for today, my hair is red. Because it seems to be, at this time of the year, the only thing I can control. My hair.
I can't control my hurt.
And I can't always control my tears.
I can barely control my emotions on any given day.
And I don't have the energy to control my thoughts.

But my hair? I got that covered.

And so I color it, and pouf it, I dye it, and perm it. I tease it and braid it, only to stick a hat on it when I'm finished. But I - nonetheless - am the one to decide what color it will be on any given day. Which gives me much pride and even more comfort...

On those days when tears flow to freely and emotions take their toll. And I miss. I miss, terribly.

And although two beautiful children in my home can never, ever replace the one that isn't - they sure do make it much more bearable. And even beautiful.

Like this incredible shade of red.

Dec 18, 2008

And Starring As Christ the Lord: Carrot Top.

Oh, please keep the Christmas traditions coming. I have read each and every one and cannot wait to tell you all what I came up with. If you haven't left me a comment with your favorite tradition, do so now! You all are really giving me some great ideas.

I would now like tell the story of how the little Lord Jesus (star of the song, "What Child Is This" and "Away In a Manger") came to be played by your favorite comedian and mine, Carrot Top.

Remi has recently come across 87,000 color pages of the nativity. I don't know where she's getting them. I suppose they're passing these things out in Sunday School; what are they thinking? As if I have nothing better to do than teach about Christmas at Christmastime. Hmph!

After purchasing a new box of colors for Remi (since most were lost in the Momma-I-Ate-My-Colors Debacle of '08) she sat down yesterday at the counter to begin her marathon color fest.

At first I wasn't worried. Sure, she seemed determined in her endeavors. I would offer up other colors but she was pretty certain that everyone at the manger scene was black. And I was fine with that. Anythings possible. I wasn't there, so what do I know. But Jesus was not once - not twice - not even three times - but was every time stricken with the most horrible orange hair you've ever seen.

I offered up blond, because nothing says "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" like a baby with surfer blond hair.

I offered brown. Certainly because brown is a pretty typical hair color, but also because it was the only one that the end of it hadn't been bitten off. (She's smart. She really is. Don't let her eating crayolas distract you from that.)

I even offered black. Because there is nothing cuter than a big, fat baby with a full head of coal black hair. And also because it seemed to go along with the overall "color scheme" she was going with.

I even offered her a deep auburn. Which really doesn't exist. Unless you blend brown and red together. But the red was in her mouth. Again.

But nope. Jesus was a carrot top. Of this, she was sure.

And who was I to argue? My hair has been three different colors in the last month, so...

Oh, what I would do to have a picture of hers to show off. But she spit up a little crayola on it. Or maybe two crayolas. Cuz it looked like a little deep auburn to me.

Dec 17, 2008

Christmas At My Place.

Do you know what I'm the most excited about this Christmas?

It's not the days spent lounging in my pajamas - though that's nice, I will admit.
It's not the excuse I have, every Christmas, to watch While You Were Sleeping and cry like it's the first time I've ever seen it.
And it's not the fact that my mom always gets me that "oh, it's just a little something" that dad has no idea she spent the money on. And it's just from her to me. And it is usually something I crave...that being shoes, jewelry , handbags or anything she gets off of QVC. Go mom!

Nope, it's none of those things.

It's the fact that this year Christmas - is at my house.

This year Remi Hope will walk down her stairs to see what Santa left beneath her tree.

This year the fire will be burning in my fire place.

This year Rocco will lay between the AG and I, in our bed, with little Remi squeezed in for good measure.

And even more importantly, this year will be the first year that we begin our very own Christmas traditions.

And I cannot wait.

Oh yes, I will miss my family. Don't get me wrong on that. I will miss staying up well past midnight and watching my dad unload all of Santa's "goodies" for my little sister. (Though I will not miss being the one to wrap 85 last minute gifts he found for my mom. I HATE WRAPPING GIFTS. It's totally overrated.) I will miss Margaret's sausage bread every Christmas morning. And I will miss all the naps. (Though I plan on upholding that tradition with my own family; I feel it's only right.)

* Note to readers: Now, I know that you all read 60 million blogs at this time of year that probably all deal with the same topic, so please don't hit the ESCAPE button just yet. I have been excited about writing this post for some time now, so I really need you to play along.

Here's what I want to know. What are your traditions? What are the things - the sweet, special, we do it every year and it just gets better and better - traditions that you and your family have?

I've been asking around and have really heard of some great things that families do together every year, and granted, making holiday memories with a 2 year old is probably not going to be everything I bargained for, but nonetheless it's my first Christmas with my little family and I want to make a memory.

C'mon! Help a girl out.

Tell me what your traditions are.

And don't be surprised if I make some of them my own.

And don't be surprised if I don't make some of them my own. (As much as I love you MaryBeth, I am not eating sugar free jello and listening to John Denver. There just has to be more to life that that!)

Dec 16, 2008

Sisterhood of the Traveling Twilights.

I never thought it would happen. Ever.

I never thought I would give in to the hype. To the counterculture. Ever.

But I did.

I sold out.

And I'm in deep.

Of course, I'm also behind. But I'm like that with most things. It was twelve years after the Guess jeans fad before I owned a pair. And I didn't learn to text until like three weeks ago. So when something new and exciting and cool comes along, you can bet I will be on board. Only it will be the wrong board and it will be about three boards too late.

But, I'll get on there eventually. Oh yes, I will.

Which is why today, almost two years after the stinkin' book even came out, I am on the Twilight bandwagon. I walked by that book for two years in Barnes and Noble. I snickered at the ladies in line buying it. I asked God to help them, to heal their soul, their broken places.

I now own a copy.

Deliver me, Lord.

But within my obsession I have found a few friends, a sisterhood if you will, of fellow Twilighters. Thus the title of today's post. Which comes courtesy, of all people, Bubba / Brandon, who finds it fascinating that Meridith and I worry over who the book will go to next and so now refers to us as the Sisterhood of the Traveling Twilights. I'll take that, though. I deserve that.

And here's how it goes down:

Friday night Jessica told me that she was reading it and asked me if the thought of us reading it meant that the church would ask us to leave or never ever teach a Sunday school class again. I told her, "yes." Then I asked Jessica if she'd seen the movie, which she hasn't so that means I will be kidnapping her to whisk her away to see it - and also my friend Teresa, who came over to babysit my kids one night and saw the book on my nightstand, picked it up, started reading it and three days later was halfway into the second volume. She went to Barnes and Noble to buy her copy even though her daughter Coco screamed in embarrassment that her mom was reading the very same book that Coco and all her friends were reading and begged her mom to please read something more her own age. I, personally, would have let Teresa borrow my second volume but I didn't have one yet as Meridith has promised to loan me hers but she ended up letting her mom read it - and well, her mom got totally addicted to it and then took it home to finish reading it. So the AG went and bought me the second one but then I had to finish it fast because he said I hadn't taken that many baths since we'd been married. So once I finished it I was like, "Sheesh, I need the third one now." But he said we were in a recession. So thankfully Sonja brought it to me, but she only had it because Alyce had lent her hers. Sonja is in deep as well, but she's seen the movie - with Colleen. So now I have the third one which is good because Meridith doesn't and she is need of it, too. But strangely enough her mom has the third one because her dad went out and bought it for her and Meridith said, "Well, I could just borrow mom's when I get home for Christmas, but she might not want me to bring it all the way back to Tennessee." To which Bubba / Brandon replied, "Good Lord, y'all sound like the sisterhood of the traveling Twilights. Just mail the dern thing back and forth to each other. It can be done - I know! I work for UPS."

Whoo. Did you get all that?

And now you see why it's a Sisterhood.

Would you like to be in the sisterhood? It requires very little...
1. Just the ability to read.
2. To completely believe in the existence of werewolves.
3. And the sense to not be offended when your local church asks you to take your membership to the Methodist church down the road.

Which is something that could happen just any day now.

Dec 15, 2008

And Just In Time For Christmas. Ain't It Grand?

Oh, the emails.

The masses upon masses of emails I've received regarding my little e-book, From Foxholes To Faith. I've received so many emails that I barely had time to read them all, much less respond to them. Well, you know how hard it is to return one email, right? Now multiply that by three and that's how many emails I've had to return.

Sheesh, I'm exhausted.

Okay, it's been more than three. And I've loved every one of them. And I thank you for them. I am glad that this little journey I've been on has been one of familiarity for so many of you. I'm also sorry it has been one of familiarity - I wish your life was perfect. I wish all our lives were perfect, but they are far from it, huh? And I suppose it's just nice to know you have a soldier in arms alongside you. And you do.

For those of you who are interested, the little e-book that could has now become something you can purchase from It's not a big book, so if you wrap it up and give it to someone in your office it's not like your asking them to read War and Peace or anything. But it is something that someone you know might need. So if you'd like (no pressure - we're still friends even if you are rolling your eyes right now...though I will admit, we're not as close as we could be) please purchase it for yourself or for someone you think might need it.

Just don't purchase it for a dirty Santa gift. Cuz that's just rude.

And maybe this is just for Kate - my trusted friend who would love me even if I wrote a book about poo - and hates to read anything she can't hold in her hand. Maybe it's just for her. Trust me, she's enough. But I know it isn't. It's for you or that someone you know.

So go ahead and order yours today. Momma needs a new pair of shoes.

Dec 12, 2008

Pins and Needles.

Mmmmm...I love me some Sandra Bullock. I don't think I've seen her in anything since While You Were Sleeping. Right? She hasn't been in anything since While You Were Sleeping. Right? Right? That's right. Because Miss Congeniality Two: Armed and Fabulous did not exist. And The Lakehouse was just a horrible figment of my imagination. Right? At least that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

So say it with me now...

"Welcome back, Sandy. Finally, you're back to doing what you do best."

How does this look to you all?

Is it just me or Ryan Reynolds just adorable? I mean he'll do in a pinch until Hugh Grant decides to do another film. And when Hugh Grant does a movie - I'M THERE!

So is anybody else planning on seeing this over the holidays?

You may have seen it advertised on T.V. but you have to watch the trailer. It's adorable. But I'm a sucker for anything with animals in it. (Hello, Old Yeller.)

This is one I'd love to see on Christmas day. Which reminds me, any of you able to keep my kiddos on Christmas day so I can see this one?

And lastly...

Sometimes it's wonderful being a girl. We can walk up to the ticket counter and loudly proclaim "One for Bride Wars please" and no one looks at us as if we were nuts. Which is how men must feel with all things Star Wars and Van Damme.

So, what are you waiting on pins and needles to see?

Dec 11, 2008

Couple Things.

For all of you who left me tips, tricks and ideas on Tuesday...WOW! I loved hearing from all of you either over email or through your comments. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Some of you had ideas that were really good. Some were really hard. And some were really not gonna happen in a million years. (Seriously, y'all can get your husband to do his own clothes? How is that possible?)

Sidney made me tired just listening to her. Single mom of six? Can someone say
V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N??? I think we should all take up a love offering in her name. Can I get a whatwhat? Somehow she made loading two kids into a car without sweating sound a bit silly.

Sarah W. says she cleans because "she loves to clean?" Did I hear that right? Because if I did, then Sarah W. I would like to personally invite you over to my house for some chicken salad and a dust mop. Not necessarily in that order.

I agree with NC that carrying around a pen and paper at all times is a MUST! If it can't go on a list then I can't do it. That's pretty much my motto. But how her and Amber get their kids to go down at 7PM I will never understand. Trust me friends, that's another topic for another day.

A couple of you, like Katy, suggested I check out flylady. I'm not sure what that's all about, but I promise to check her out. But if you see in your local newspaper a headline that reads, "Tennessee Woman With Spit-up On Her Shirt Goes Berserk On Flylady's Unwarranted Demands" - you'll know it's me.

And I have to say that Teri from Indiana was absolutely no help to me at all - for she sounded waaayyy to much like me.

But your tips were great and I appreciate them. How nice that we have a little community here where we can help each other out. Even if that does mean you all help me with an area of my life that (let's be honest) will never, ever change. And I continue to accept your help with the empty promises that it will, all the while knowing that both of us are bound for disappointment.

But hey! I've always been one to look reality in the eye and deny it. And it's always worked for me.

Thank you very much.


On another note...Bubba / Brandon is thrilled at the response his holiday tips received yesterday. Some of you thought he was so cute, which was astonishing considering he looked like a total goofus in that picture.

But hey! Different strokes for different folks.

He did want me to mention three very important things to the ladies who were turned on by his UPS status. (All two of you).

1. He is single. Very, very, very single.

2. He is not afraid of commitment.

and lastly...

3. That UPS suit is a tear-away.

His words, not mine. Gross.


When we went to pick Remi up from school the other day her teacher mentioned what a good girl she had been that day. I believe she used words like "helper," "lovey," "patient". Pretty much the words every mother wants to hear but never gets to hear.

So when we got in the car the AG and I asked her how her day at school was...

AG: Remi, did you have a good day at school?

Remi: I hit.

AG: You what?

Remi: I hit my friends.

AG: I hope that's not true Remi.

Remi: Yep, I hit. I hit my friends.

AG: Well, if that's true then you know that there will be no cartoon when you get home. No movies or cartoon at all for the rest of the day.


AG: So is it true what you said? Did you really hit your friends?

Remi: Hold on let me think...maybe I did, maybe I didn't.

Keep your chins up, my lovelies, tomorrow is Friday.

Dec 10, 2008

What Brown Can Do For You.

Well, here's my attempt at another Works For Me Wednesday Post. As some of you know I have tried my hand at this before...and failed...miserably. Not because I don't like the idea of What Works For Me Wednesday, but mainly because nothing ever, ever, works for me.

Sewing? Nope.

Dusting with one of those Swiffer dusters like all the cool people? Nyet.

Weight Watchers? Ha.

See? Nothing ever works for me.

Well, you know what? That's a little harsh. I fried up 18 pounds of chicken tenders for Thanksgiving and that went over great! But then my face broke out and I couldn't button my pants for the next entire week, so maybe I need to reconfigure what "working for me" actually means.

So, I've decided to call in the experts on this here Works For Me Wednesday. Our local UPS man.

Oh, sure - he's also my cousin. His name is Brandon. But we all call him Bubba (I think the rest of this post will prove why that name is appropriate) and I've decided to sit him down and ask him his best holiday tips.

You may wonder why asking Bubba for holiday tips makes any sense, but you see, he became a man today. Today, as he was delivering a package to some of the fine delicate flowers in Brentwood, he was hit on. Considering he's in his twenties and, well, she's not, he likes to say he's been "cougared." Oh, give him a break. Every guy oughta get to say it once.

So if you want to know what really works this holiday season, let's ask UPS' finest and friend and yours, Bubba.

*Note to readers: The following tips are words taken directly from Bubba. No edits, re-writes or exaggerations were made. None were needed. I assure you.

Tip #1: "Candles are nice at the holidays. I personally like ones that smell like A&W Root Beer Floats...they do make those, right? But just be sure that when you go to the mall to do your shopping you blow it out."

Tip #2: "Be sure when your UPS man comes to your door at Christmas you tip him. This is the season for giving. Remember? And after being 'cougared' I can honestly say that tipping never has to be with money. Remember that ladies."

Tip #3: "A fire is nice. It always smells up the house and makes everyone feel warm. Don't forget to stoke it every now and then. OHHH! THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!"

Tip #4: "Don't set your tree right in front of the fireplace. You might think this is obvious, but I did it one year. And that thing is combustible."

Tip #5: "When you hang your stockings up by the fireplace be sure and arrange them in the right order. Once I hung mine up with letters that were supposed to spell out N-O-E-L. But when you put them up backwards they just spell L-E-O-N. And I don't know any Leon."

Tip #6: "Don't lie to your kids. If you live in an apartment Santa is not going to come see you. He has no chimney to come down. And Santa Claus without a chimney is like a pole dancer without a pole."

And last, but not least...

Tip #7: "Don't be stupid around the holidays, like Melissa, and spend $800 at the vet on your cat. For $800 you could just shoot that thing and get yourself a panther."

And that, my lovelies, is what BROWN CAN DO FOR YOU.

Dec 9, 2008

There's A Self-Help Book Somewhere With My Face On It.

Something has got to change.

And now.

My life has become a vicious cycle of organized mass destruction. Is that even something? Probably not. And that's my point.

Look, I'm an artist. Not an actual artist, mind you. But an artist in the sense that my creativity and, shall we say, zest for life seem to determine everything I do and the way that I do. I am 100% right brained and not one little ounce left brained. (What are you?)

Some days I wake up at 4, some days at 7, some days at 10.

Some days I shower. And some days I don't.

Some days I get no laundry done at all. And some days I get half the laundry done. But I never, ever, ever get all of the laundry completely finished.

Some days I cook. Some days I plan to cook. And some days I cook the first dish and get tired and give up - so we sit down for dinner to a plate of ham.

Some days I have a quiet time. And to be quite honest, lots of days, I don't.

Some days I start writing my thank-you cards for the baby gifts people gave me MONTHS ago. And some days I give up and push them back under my bed.

Some days I return calls and check emails. And some days I lose my computer and forget to charge my phone.

Some days my house looks like a tornado tore through it. Some days it looks like the tornado won. But it never, ever looks like I won.


Never had it.

Have to get it.

If I could get my hands on a little discipline and organization I could be the woman that my mind sees. I'd like to meet her, she seems like a great woman. A lot of fun. Her clothes match and she's proud of her accomplishments. Instead I wear clothes that still have dried marinara on them from two weeks ago. I haven't renewed my drivers license after two warnings from two different officers on two different occasions. And my daughters shot records have yet to be turned in to her school - and she started in August. (But I personally see this as all their fault. They know I need reminding.)

Several months back some of you emailed me concerning your weekly menu planning. I started it. And I loved it! It has helped not only our time but our budget. (Tonight? Eggplant Parmesan, thankyouverymuch.)

So what other tricks do you have up your sleeve?
If your house if full of kiddos then when do you fit in that quiet time?
When do you start and - gasp! - finish your laundry?
Do you have particular days of the week that you do certain things?
Oh, and here's a good question. If you have over one child, how do you get them and all their things in the car under 2 hours and without breaking out into a dripping sweat?

Share with me. I am a desperate woman.

I'll be taking notes. As soon as I can find where in the wide world I left my journal. Or a pen.

Dec 8, 2008

A Weekend of Wonder.

I'm sitting in my living room right now writing to you and this is what I'm hearing...

"Someone ought to take him out back and hit him over the head with a hammer."

Yep, my lovelies, "remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." Or as we like to say around here, "remember it's Sunday which means it's football. Stay out of my way or I'll clock ya." We take our football very seriously.

This past weekend has been special. Any number of reasons really. (Most of which I plan on sharing with you here. So hit the ESCAPE button now or forever hold your peace.) But as some of you may have heard - and as many of you may be feeling - we are in a recession.

Recession - an extended decline in general business activity, typically two consecutive quarters of falling
real gross national product.

When the economy is bad, well, let's just say around our house - it's worse. If it's bad where you are, it's worse where we are. Mainly because our livelihood is one of discretionary means. And what I mean by that is, if the economy is bad guess what the first thing is to go? You got it. Music. Entertainment. Books. Movies. All the things that we make our living from. (Well, all the things the AG makes a living from...I'm feeling pretty useless right about now.)
So yeah, it's hard right now. It's unpleasant. And uncomfortable. And tight. Which is why this weekend was even more special to me.

Friday night the AG took me out for my birthday. He really surprised me this year with tickets to a play! I love that kind of stuff and didn't even know there was anything coming to town that I would be interested in. But he had bought the tickets almost 6 months ago...before that whole recession thing...and the tickets had sold out quickly. So good for us! It was a wonderful night out with sushi and my best friend.

But going out like that would never have been possible had we had to get a babysitter. I can't afford the going rate anymore so there are more and more nights in for the AG and I. But now that Meridith is here we at least have her to call on. And if she isn't working (and thankfully she wasn't on Friday night) then we have someone wonderful and patient and fun and our kids love - and it's absolutely free.

Thank you, Lord. I appreciate that.

Because we needed a good laugh on Friday night after a hard week, I specifically prayed that this play might do the trick. I needed a good laugh. I KNEW the AG needed a good laugh. And that was exactly what we got. We both laughed and laughed and it felt good (like a medicine, some might say) and helped our anxiety and our worry. And refreshed our spirit.

Very sweet, Lord, very sweet.

Saturday brought a trip to Home Depot to pick up some paint for Rocco's room. Because people, it's time! He is sleeping through the night and ready for a room all his on. (And momma having hers back wouldn't hurt either.) We had a gift card to Home Depot for the paint, and all the crib sheets, curtains and bedding had been given to us as gifts, so his room is all but ready to go.

Thanks for simple favors, Lord.

We still need a dresser and changing table for Rocco. But I am trusting the Lord has the perfect ones. I keep checking Craig's List or Ebay because now is not the time to be purchasing extravagant furniture for a child's room. I am not a girl of great sentiment, so I don't need some vintage dresser for $8200. I just need something sweet and brown and perfect for a perfect baby. Keep an ear out for me if you were to hear of something for sale. Or for free. Or even just for really really cheap.

You've already provided, Lord. Haven't you?

Friday, Saturday and Sunday came with only one accident from Remi. You heard right. It's official - Remi is potty trained. She has worn nothing but big girl panties since Friday morning and it has gone incredibly well. We've done Home Depot without accident and Sunday morning church without accident. So I am assuming it's a done deal. She seems repelled by the thought of diapers and loves the idea of underpants with Elmo on them, so I'd say we're in it for the long haul.

That's just like you, Lord. You remember everything. Everything. Nothing goes unnoticed, does it? And just when we can't take lighten our load.

Sunday was special for me for many reasons. Sunday morning was our children's Christmas musical and it felt good and right to be sitting in a service where children danced and sang and laughed and forgot lines and dressed up like shepherds and cried on the front row. That felt right. Amidst a society of Xbox 360, MTV, cell phones and texting - it seemed particularly nice to see children do what it is children do best. I loved the fact that Remi sat spellbound on my lap as the children moved and swayed and sang with all their hearts. I loved seeing the children of my friends arrayed in their adorable cuteness. And I loved looking out and seeing their momma's smiling and crying and holding up video cameras like their child was the only one in the room. So yes, it was precious. that's why you love children so much, Lord. Because they symbolize exactly what it is you like in all of us. The simpleness. No pretense. Just unabashed praise. And unapologetic joy. I forget that sometimes.

Lastly, this weekend the AG and I got the chance to make Christmas a little bit brighter for a little girl. We were told what her Christmas wish list was comprised of and off we went to pick out some toys for her Christmas day. This is a challenging thing to do when you are concerned with what your children will open on Christmas day - but my children are always well taken care of. So this little girl was my priority. But do you have any idea how much Hannah Montana stuff is?? Geez Louise. It ain't cheap! And as I sat in our morning service yesterday I sulked a bit. Afraid that what I got her wasn't enough. That what we got her she wouldn't like. That what we got her would not make her as happy as what some other people might have been able to do for her. And I felt lame. And ashamed. And embarrassed. And well, silly.

And then I was reminded by the words that came out of one adorable little mop-topped boy, "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones...he will certainly not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:42) Can you believe that? That's what he said. And though he said it to the whole congregation I imagine he might as well have looked at me on the front row and said it straight to me.

And I thank you for using a child to remind me. It isn't the first time you've done such a miraculous work through a child, is it? Thank you, Lord. Always.

Dec 5, 2008

Haz Aneewon Evr Hurd Of A Spankin Spooon?

Dear Bubble Bursters,

Yeah, you heard me right. Bubble bursters. Cuz I had a bubble and you all went and burst it.

Look, I'm not usually one to complain. Granted, I like a good foot stomp every now and then. And I've recently learned that crossing my arms and huffing really loud will get a response. But other than those things I'm not really one for fit throwing.

Until now.


Let's see, we've got like ten of you who think I shouldn't take an afternoon nap anymore. Fifteen of you who think mom needs to put tape on my light. And about thirty who think the T.V. should be removed from my room.


What's next?

Why don't you just strap a churn to me and send me out to make butter? Why don't I just travel to school from now on in a buggy?

What is this, Amish country?

So a girl likes to get up a little early and watch a movie. Boo hoo! My mom like to wake up early, plug the tree in, fix herself some hot chocolate and read a book about a vampire who falls in love and goes to his local high school. Now, I ask you. What's worse?

Oh, gee. I'm thinking if Tarzan and Jane had fangs and pasty white skin we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we?

But oooooohhhh nnnoooo, blame the little girl. I know all you mom's out there. Oh yeah, I got your number. Y'all stick together. Oh yes you do. Y'all run in packs. I know things. I've heard things.

Once, my friend Tommy, who goes to the black church down the road, was bad during the music. And six different women spanked him before his momma could leave the choir loft, take him in the bathroom and do it herself. He told me right then and there that all you momma's stick together. He also told me to wear a lot of padding. Which is why I'm still in diapers. (Which reminds me...stop giving her advice on that, too. I'll do it when she brings my T.V. back to my room, how's that?)

So I just wanted to leave this post for you all to let you know how much I truly appreciate you all reading my mom's blog and leaving her your ideas. Oh, yes, really I do. I truly appreciate the tape that I have to peel off my light switch every night. I appreciate the digital clock that now shines so bright in my bedroom I fear planes are going to come in for a landing. And I appreciate you telling her to remove my T.V. Real nice.

I also want you to know that I have learned how to say things that are dripping with sarcasm. Mom taught me that. She can deny it, but she did.

Oh, and for the record. Mom and dad never put a T.V. in my room. Poppie did. He brought it. He plugged it in. He even brought the movies. So he says if you got a problem with it you can take it up with him.

And so he and I made a little agreement. He said he would give me the T.V./VCR combo if I would agree to always prefer him over Nonie and "never be a smartalic like your momma." His words, not mine. We shook hands. And I been waking up at 4 AM ever since.

So, bubble bursters, this holiday season I hope a few things for you.

1. I hope someone puts tape alllllll over your Christmas presents and then they say, "Oh, I'm sorry. Did you want to open it up? I just assumed you wanted to look at it but not be able to do anything about it."

2. I hope someone makes a sign that says "NO" and tapes it up over your stocking. Then loads said stocking down with all your favorite treats and maybe even a tennis bracelet. But you can't touch it. Nope. It's says "NO" on it, therefore you have to abide by the rule.

3. And lastly, right as your family goes to sit down on Christmas eve with their hot chocolate and their flannel pj's, to watch Home Alone or Miracle on 34th Street....I hope your power goes out.

Have a Merry One.