Thursday, December 9, 2010

Adventures in Potty Training

Personally, I think 19 months is too young to try this whole potty training thing, but sometimes kids just get things stuck in their heads and you can't fight it. But OH how I'd love to decrease our diaper-spending...especially since diaper consumer #2 is soon on his way!

Birdie has fallen in love with sitting on the potty like a big girl. So I broke down and bought a cute little pink potty seat that fits on the big toilet seat, thus keeping little booties from having a splash landing. I must say that I am appalled by the thought of one of those seats you have to empty and clean out after each go 'round. Yuck. I'd much rather flush the thing and be done with it.

So when she gets home from "skoo" every afternoon, she runs to us and screams "I Potty I Potty I Potty" until someone takes to her sit on the throne. This is typically repeated every 15-20 minutes. I'm telling you the child is determined. Keep in mind that we're just beginning to grasp the concept of what it actually means to "I Potty" so she's usually running on empty (if you're picking up what I'm putting down). But last night was different. Last night we celebrated a small victory. On one of our many "I Potty" runs, an actual potty occurred. I was parked in my usual spot on the couch watching The Sing Off (don't you judge me, lest ye shall be judged also) and heard "TIFFANY COME HEEEERE!" from the bathroom. And pretty as you please, Birdie is perched on her pink seat grinning ear to ear saying "I Potty!" Don't worry folks. She was handsomely rewarded with leftover Halloween Smarties.

I can't believe how fast my little bird is growing up. It seems as though I just brought her home from the hospital last week...sniff sniff. But such is life! And I wouldn't trade these days for anything. In fact, I think it will only get better (at least until she turns 13)!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh Boy!

I thought I'd take a minute and introduce the world to our baby boy! He doesn't have a name yet since no compromise has been reached. I figure we'll have to come up with something soon since they won't let us leave the hospital with a nameless baby. I can already tell he has big feet like his daddy...that probably won't hurt when it comes to kicking a soccer ball around!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Mommy's Resume

I was going through some files on my computer the other day and came across my professional resume. Since having a child, I've decided that I should update the section that lists my job skills. Here's what I think I should add:
  • Can change a diaper at 2:04 a.m. in total darkness
  • Can identify all matters of stains and suggest proper stain removal solutions (and if those don't work, throw the dern thing in the trash and go on with your life)
  • Bilingual (fluent in both English and Toddler)
  • Excellent multi-tasker (can feed self with right hand, child with left hand and still manage to slip food to bulldog under the table)
  • Works well and remains calm under pressure (because you haven't lived until you've tried to Christmas shop with a toddler who's pitching a royal hissy fit so bad that you think she might actually throw up if she doesn't stop screaming...that pretty much sums up my last voyage to TJ Maxx)

I'd also like to add in there somewhere that I manage to clean the house enough to make sure stuff isn't growing on any surface, provide some form of dinner (and frozen fish sticks count), kiss the husband, kiss the baby, kiss the bulldog (in whatever order is necessary) all while keeping up with a career! I'm just not sure which section of a resume that goes in.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things I Learned in the South

This one comes via an email courtesy of the Boss Man's wife. True Southerners will most likely nod their heads in agreement to each statement.

  • A possum is a flat animal that sleeps in the middle of the road.
  • If it grows, it'll stick ya. If it crawls, it'll bite ya.
  • "Onced" and "twiced" are words.
  • It's not a shopping cart. It's a buggy.
  • People actually grow and eat okra.
  • "Fixinto" is one word that means preparing to do something.
  • There is no such thing as lunch. There is dinner, and then there's supper.
  • Sweet tea is appropriate for all meals and you start drinking it when you're two.
  • "Backwards n forwards" means knowing everything about someone.
  • You don't have to wear a watch because it doesn't matter what time it is. You work until you're done or until it's too dark to see.
  • You don't push buttons, you mash them.
  • Distance is measured in minutes.
  • You switch from heat to A/C in the same day...quite often in fact.
  • All festivals are named after a fruit, vegetable, grain or animal.
  • You know what a dawg is.
  • You carry jumper cables in your car - for your own car.
  • You only own five spices: salt, pepper, Tony's, Tabasco and ketchup.
  • The local papers cover national and international news on one page but require six pages for high school sports, NASCAR and gossip (known locally as the Riverfront and Chatterbox sections).
  • You think the first day of deer season is a national holiday. Wait, it isn't?
  • You find 100 degrees a bit warm.
  • The four seasons are almost summer, summer, still summer and Christmas.
  • You describe the first cool snap (below 70 degrees) as good stew weather.
  • Fried catfish is the other white meat.

I hope you've enjoyed these Southernisms. I'm off now to pack for a trip to Gatlinburg for Thanksgiving...the redneck riviera of the Smokey Mountains! I hope you enjoy your turkey and sweet potato casserole this week. Kiss your babies and count your blessings!

Monday, November 22, 2010

You Know You Live in Bama When...

Okay, so I know I should be working but I just had to share this with all of y'all (yes that is proper Alabama grammar). This little feller was apparently killed today by a Decatur Parks and Rec worker while mowing the grass around the Point Mallard Golf Course. I don't know what kind of snake it is, but in my book the only good snake is a dead snake. I do, however, know the following...

You know you live in Alabama when:
a) even the guys who cut grass for a living are this good-looking
b) you wear shorts and snake boots together and nobody gives you a second glance
c) the grass isn't brown and still needs to be mowed in November
d) you hold up a hacked-apart snake on a stick for your buddies to take pictures.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Halfway to Hatching

It's official. I'm halfway there (I could easily slip into a Bon Jovi song here but I'll spare you all of that). I'm now 20 weeks and 4 days and counting. As I sit here scratching my growing belly (it's at the starting-to-itch point) I'm completely stressing out about naming this child.

I guess I should mention that we don't know yet whether it will be an "innie" or an "outie", as so lovingly coined by SOP with her first pregnancy. My docs have apparently taken two weeks vacation, so we won't know the gender until after Thanksgiving. I sincerely hope none of their patients go into labor over the holiday...I'm afraid nobody would be there to catch the baby!

So for now, JB and I will just argue about what name to give the child. I can't believe the names some people stick on their precious little babies. It's a stressful decision - this is something the child will carry throughout life unless they seek the help of a lawyer to change it when they get old enough. Family names are coming up pretty much a bust for us. Sorry Visa (grandma Diane) but there's no way I'll name a child Jason Earl Jr. I'm convinced Poppa (grandpa Earl) must have filled out that birth certificate paperwork while she was recovering from the c-section meds.

Naming Birdie was easy. She has my first name, a tradition I wasn't about to break since every first daughter has the same name pre-dating the American Revolution. I fell in love with the name Brantley the minute I met one of JB's basic training buddies, so that one was a given. And her third name comes from my Nanny. We never for one second could agree on a boy's name, so I guess it's a good thing she was an "innie."

I'm not sure what we'll do if baby #2 is an "outie." And I'm really afraid that may be the case this time around. Everything about this pregnancy is different from my first, which isn't altogether bad. I was miserable from day 1 with Birdie. I was enormous and my nose got so wide you could've parked a Greyhound bus inside it. I lost my ankles and my ability to wear real shoes 3 1/2 months before she arrived. For crying out loud, I gained 59 pounds!

This one has been relatively easy so far. My trips to the head for morning sickness (which really should just be called all day sickness) only lasted four months instead of five. I've only gained about 5 pounds and I still have skinny ankles. However, my skin has decided to revolt in a way that it never did the first time around. And my hormones have made me a raving lunatic, which I'm sure my husband enjoys. But I guess we'll know whether to buy pink or blue in 9 days...unless of course the baby decides to hide. In which case I may show up at the OB's office daily until we know for sure!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quick! Hide the Ruby Slippers!

When the tornado sirens went off at approximately 3am this morning, I honestly thought I'd made a poor decision in dressing Brantley as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz for Halloween. I half expected us to wake up this morning surrounded by a lion, tin man and scarecrow, being chased by a green witch.

Apparently many of my friends weren't privy to said siren and slept through the whole ordeal, which lasted all of about 3 minutes before the weatherman said the warning for Morgan County had been cancelled. I'm not pointing fingers, but the person responsible for sounding the alarm may have been just a little trigger-happy. And although the bulldog and I got out of bed to see what Jeff Castle had to say about the situation, my little Dorothy slept straight through the whole ordeal.

There's nothing like a good 'ole tornado warning to make you feel like a true Southerner! I remember being pulled out of bed on numerous occasions as a child to go and sit in a neighbor's storm shelter while we waited for a tornado that never came. I use that "shelter" term loosely, seeing as how it was basically a giant ant mound in their yard. You know the kind I'm talking about - they aren't actually even underground except for maybe a foot of dirt. Ah, a false sense of security will go so far in the South! As far as last night is concerned, I'm thankful there was no real threat and that everyone was safe. However, let's not sound those sirens unless I really need to drag my booty out of bed and take shelter in a closet. Otherwise, ignorance is truly bliss and I'd much prefer to just sleep through it all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Virginia is for Lovers...Utah is for Lunatics

I often recall many words of wisdom given to our senior class by Mr. Hinkle as we sat in our economics class. Most of that wisdom had nothing to do with economics. He once said he'd like to designate a geographical location where we could round up all the "crazy folks" and send them there to live so that nobody else would have to deal with them. Well, I think his dream has come true and it's called Utah.

I would like to shamefully admit that I was sucked in by TLC's "Sister Wives" over the past few weeks. I don't know how, but it just happened. In case you missed this series on the Browns, a polygamist family from (you guessed it) Utah, I'll give you the rundown on the cast of characters.

Kody (The Patriarch): not raised in a polygamist family, chose the lifestyle as a teen, ego the size of Alaska, trying entirely too hard to hold onto his youth with his choice of hairstyle and facial hair...what do you call a goatee that doesn't have a mustache?

Meri (Wife #1): married to Kody 20 years, raised in a 5-wife family, married Kody when he was still a shiny-faced kid, wears the pants in the family, is responsible for "recruiting" other wives, obviously insane.

Janelle (Wife #2): married to Kody 17 years, mother of 5 of the Brown's brood, drank the Kool-Aid, sacrificed friends and family to join the polygamist lifestyle, obviously content to work all day and let Wife #3 do the cooking and child-rearing.

Christine (Wife #3): married to Kody 16 years, mother of 6, always wanted to be the 3rd wife in a family, the only stay-at-home wife, must be a hippie burn-out because she gives her kids names like Aspyn and Truly.

Robyn (and here's where it got interesting): being courted by Kody, becomes wife #4 in final episode, mother of 3 from previous marriage, the boat rocker.

The whole series focuses on this family and the changes they go through adding a fourth wife and her kids to the already enormous family. Kody divides his time evenly among the wives, staying with a different one every night (I mean, he must really think he's a stud), all the while driving four hours to a different city to take Robyn out on dates. This man must have a time machine! There's no way I could keep up with a schedule like that!

Along the way, we learn that Meri (#1) actually met Robyn at a gathering and suggested to her husband that he explore a relationship with her. What kind of wife purposefully hooks her husband up with younger, more attractive women? Anyway, the final episode was last night and it ended with the wedding of Kody to Harem Member #4 and chronicled the jealousy of the other wives along the way. Here's my point in the whole thing: if you as a woman are going to willingly enter a polygamist relationship, don't get angry at the man when he starts shacking up with another woman. You brought this on yourself, girlfriend.

So Mr. Hinkle, you were too late. By the time you made the suggestion to gather up the crazies in 2000, Utah had already been a state for 104 years. And I probably shouldn't make such broad generalizations about the citizens of Utah, but since the Browns are my only reference point, I'm going to jump out on a limb and say that Utah is officially for the insane!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Don't Get Me So Worked Up Before Daylight!

I woke up at 4:41 am in a complete panic. The side of the bed occupied by my husband when I fell asleep was empty.

Maybe Sophie and I crowded him and he went to the guest room. Nope. Maybe Birdie woke up and he's in her room rocking her. Nope. Maybe he couldn't sleep (he's a 3rd shifter and can't sleep in the dark anymore) and went for a run. Nope. Running shoes in the floor. By this time I was really starting to freak out. Had he decided to up and leave me in the middle of the night? His car was in the garage. I went to his closet to check out the situation. Duty belt, gun and police gear. All where he left it. Whew. There's no way he'd leave me without taking his gun.

I chuckled at myself for a minute thinking that my husband would be fine without his clothes and all other personal possessions, but there's no way on earth he'd leave without his firearms.

So at 4:45, I dialed his cell. "Why are you awake so early?" was his answer. "Where ARE you?" I demanded. "Goose hunting with your brother. I told you that last night. Weren't you listening?"

And there it was. A dose of my own medicine. It didn't go down easily.

I feel like I'm constantly reminding him of things we have to do, places we have to go, things he should remember. And now the roles were reversed. Now I was the one who either didn't listen or just plain forgot. Maybe I will be a little more forgiving the next time JB forgets something important. Nah, where's the fun in that?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another Egg in Our Nest

Several weeks ago, I posted on FB how I thought it was only fitting how God looks at all the plans you've made in life, then laughs and makes His own. That post was written on August 10th - a Tuesday - the day a little digital stick said, "SURPRISE! YOU'RE PREGNANT! AGAIN!" Well, in not so many words...

That day was a struggle for me, to say the least. Rewind to August 9 - a Sunday - the day my husband came home from drill weekend only to say, "It's a good thing you aren't pregnant because they're moving us up." As in, next deployment. What was tentatively scheduled for 2012 is now set to happen in 2011, as is the birth of our second child.

As I stood there staring at that pregnancy test, those words were all I could hear. I couldn't think about the joy another baby meant for our family - I could only focus on the fact that Jason would be leaving (again) soon after. But after spending a few days in complete shock (although I do know where babies come from and what causes this type of situation, and don't worry I won't let it happen again) I was able to come to terms with it all. Sister Meg was right. Sometimes God gives us what we need rather than what we want...or at least what we think we want. So at 3 months preg, I was finally comfortable sharing our news with the general public. I want to thank all my girlfriends who offered such encouraging words as I emerged from meltdown status! You know who you are and I'm so thankful for each of you!

This baby has been a surprise from day one! Jason and I can't wait to see what this little one brings to our lives. And Birdie is super excited to be a big sister - she just doesn't know it yet!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

There I Go Thinking Again...

This is the time of the year when I'm up to my eyeballs in Riverfest planning. On the agenda for today: mail out nearly 100 judges' schedules for the weekend. And of course, I was out of plain white envelopes. I thought it might do me some good to walk to Lucky's to purchase said envelopes. A little fresh air never hurt anyone, right? And besides, it would literally take me longer to drive there than walk so why waste the gas? Turns out that the air is very thick and heavy today in Decatur, which means the only fresh air I could smell was from the Meow Mix plant. Imagine that. Happy Thursday!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Well, Can I Bring Y'all Supper?

It seems that in the South, regardless of the situation, the right thing to do is take somebody supper. And for any Yanks, supper is the latest meal of the day. It doesn't matter if someone's had surgery, gave birth or lost an uncle. Southerners will bring you enough supper to feed a small army.

I have found myself on many a supper-bringing-list. That's what happens when you are of child-bearing age in this area. When I brought my precious Birdie home from the hospital, my momma came over to clean my house and I had a list of folks who'd be bringing us food every other night for the next four weeks! It was glorious. I had no opportunity to lose the baby weight quickly with meals like spaghetti bake, every kind of chicken casserole you can imagine, Big Bob Gibson's BBQ, and the most adorable individual keylime desserts in orange and blue glasses (Go Gators) from Courtney and Sara.

So now, I'm paying back all those sweet people who brought me food since many of them are having babies themselves! But I'm glad to do it because it's just the way Southerners take care of each other. And if you ever see my name on your supper list, don't be angry if I show up with a chicken and wild rice casserole from The Casual Gourmet - trust me, it's better than anything that could ever come out of my kitchen!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Keep Your Peace

You heard it in Bambi, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." Well in most cases, that advice would work. But one thing I've learned is that Southern women are very opinionated. Good, bad or ugly, that's just the way it is.

I'm learning that one must choose her battles carefully. It doesn't do anyone a bit of good if you just go flying off the handle at every little thing that irks you. Let's be honest with ourselves: opinions are like belly buttons (bet you thought I was going to say something else). Everybody has one and none of them are the same. But let's just all take a moment to "unbunch" our big girl panties and realize that not every difference in opinion is worth the fight. Sometimes the best response really is no response at all. I don't really mean "turn the other cheek." It's more like "walk away before somebody has the chance to slap you in the first place." The last thing we need in this life is another enemy. Besides, if you have friends like mine you don't need enemies!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Little More Shade Please...

My idea of a vacation differs from my father's. He likes to drag an armful of beach chairs, towels, umbrellas and lord-knows-what-else down to the beach every morning and set up his little "beach fort."

I consider myself to be much more sensible when it comes to my seat in the sand. I'd rather pay the little umbrella boy 80 bucks for the week and have my lounger and shade ready and waiting for me when I finally roll out of bed and onto the beach. Typically the umbrella boy is just that: a high school kid with a great tan and board shorts making money to take his little girlfriend out on dates during the summer. Note to self: when vacationing after school starts, be aware that "umbrella boys" are back in a classroom.

Our first day on the beach went something like this...

Birdie and I find ourselves a nice set of blue-cushioned chairs that hadn't been claimed and proceeded to lay out beach towels and reapply the SPF. Visa (Diane, we'll explain this name at a later date) and Poppa Earl take off down the beach for their daily trek. Grumps builds his "beach fort." My mom supervises (she's good at this).

A short time later, we hear from behind us, "Hey sweetheart. Need an umbrella?" Why yes, yes we do! How thoughtful of you! I turn around to see standing behind us a man much too old to be umbrella boy. This is the best way I know to describe the man that would be adjusting our shade preferences all week at Orange Beach's Summer House.

I'm assuming most of my friends have seen the movie Point Break with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze...I'm not saying it's a good movie, just that you've probably seen it. Picture Swayze in this movie. Okay now add about 40 pounds to the midsection. Adorn him with a few (what appeared to be) jailhouse tattoos and remove his teeth. Yes, I said it. Remove his teeth. He began every sentence with either 'sweetheart' or 'darling' and never directly addressed any of the men in our group at any point during the course of the week. And he carried a power drill, which he used to pre-drill the holes for the umbrellas. (I personally find it much more amusing to watch them struggle with them the old fashioned way.) During our stay we learned much about "Snag Swayze," as he we affectionately referred to him. Not only was he solely responsible for an entire mile of beach chairs, he was also the father of five, and he wasn't about to give up his steady paying career for one of those rip-off $28 an hour BP jobs! On our last full day there, we were very disappointed to see that Thursday was obviously Snag's day off and he'd been replaced by what may have been his oldest son. I'm sure he would've been there if he could to tell us (or the women at least), "See you next summer, sweetheart!"

It takes all kinds, right?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Don't Worry Folks. He Made a Full Recovery!

I'll never forget the look on my daddy's face when I told my parents I was pregnant with Birdie.

As my mother jumped around doing what can only be described as some psychotic troll dance complete with giddy squeals, my poor daddy just stood there. His eyes glazed over...he had just realized that some guy (my husband of three years) had knocked up his baby girl.

It was early October 2008 and I wasn't really ready to spill the beans, but the fact that I could no longer hold down Sprite and Saltines was making it more than a little difficult to hide. Not to mention the fact that it was homecoming Sunday at church (all you good little Methodists and Baptists know that means potluck lunch) and all I could manage to put on my plate was a yeast roll.

He stood there silent for a few seconds, staring into space, no doubt thinking of ways to murder my husband for doing this to his only daughter. I made the mistake of asking him, "Daddy, are you okay?" To which he replied, "I feel like somebody hit me in the head with a big rock." Don't southern men have a way with words?

When I see "Grumps" with my little girl, I can only imagine how excited he must have been when I came into this world. In his eyes, Birdie hung the moon and stars and can do absolutely no wrong. Looking back now, I'm sure he'd change his answer to something slightly more eloquent!

Friday, July 30, 2010

I Feel I MUST Go to Antiques Roadshow

Apparently I'm ahead of my time. And by that I mean that I'm an old lady trapped in a young woman's body.

Jason and I have a new obsession: Antiques Roadshow. (I know you're laughing right now, but don't knock it 'til you try it.) I love the people who actually visit the Roadshow. They show up in their pleated-front khaki shorts, tall tube socks and velcro sandals and talk to some "expert" about a set of ancient Chinese jade sculptures their grandpa got when he traded a guy for a pack of Lucky Strikes while serving in the Korean War. I kid you not, that was a real one on last week's show. Grandpa hit paydirt with a jade set valued at (get this) $20,000. That poor little Korean man only wanted a smoke! He had no idea what he had in his possession and he let it go for some cheap cigs. Shame, shame. Here in the South, we know better than to get rid of great-grandma's china cabinet and silver set because no dollar amount is worth our family's history.

Last night's episode was particularly interesting. There was a chubby man who brought in a sofa that had been handed down through his family. He thought he'd get good news, but it wasn't worth squat. There was a bearded gentleman who had a Navy Colt revolver with the original firing pins, powder flask and velvet lined wooden box. Jackpot! Valued at $30,000! I nearly choked! But apparently Colt collectors are K-N-U-T-S (as my high school eco teacher Mr. Hinkle would say) and will pay major jack for items in "such pristine condition."

And then came a lady in a floppy hat. She conjured up visions of a 50-something Blossom Russo. And with her to the Antiques Roadshow she brings a blue vase she found at a yard sale for five bucks. I'm thinking to myself, "She got ripped off." This crooked blue vase was as ugly as homemade soap. The appraiser asks the history of how she acquired "the piece" and what she knows about it. (Obviously she didn't know much about it. Otherwise why would she be at Antiques Roadshow?)

So here's what we learned about this unfortunatley unattractive pottery:

It was made at Tulane's Newcomb College around 1925. We deduced this fact by the giant NC stamp on the bottom of the vase and because of the "swamp scene and full moon" depicted on it. We also learned that it was "thrown" by a man (can't remember his name) and painted by little Sally Irvine (her initials were on the bottom as well).

History from Tulane's website: "Newcomb Pottery is considered one of the most significant American art potteries of the first half of the twentieth century. Influenced by the English Arts and Crafts movement, Newcomb pottery was exhibited around the world, sold in shops on both coasts, and written about in art journals throughout the United States and Europe. Newcomb potters (always men) and designers (always women and girls) were awarded eight medals at international exhibitions before 1916."

This deformed blue vase that Mrs. Floppy Hat paid $5 for at some random yard sale is worth (drumroll) $3,000! I nearly fell off the couch! If I'd found something that ugly in my grandma's attic, it would have been doomed for the garbage can. I couldn't believe it.

Moral of the story: GO TO A YARD SALE! There are plenty of poor schmucks out there who don't know what they have on their hands! Don't you know whoever sold that thing was glad to get it off their hands at the time. They probably even chuckled to themselves as Floppy Hat walked away with it. "Huh. Sucker. That was a quick $5 we just made!" Now they must be kicking their own butts (that is, if they watched last night's Antiques Roadshow).

And if you don't think your neighbors are harboring any priceless treasures at their summer sales, hit up Fort Payne August 5-8 as the "World's Longest Yardsale" takes place. I can't imagine a 450-mile stretch of people's junk. But who knows? You might find yourself a true piece of American history. Happy hunting!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mama Needs a Vay-cay-shun!

What's worse than the sound of the alarm clock going off in the morning? How about waking up to a trail of lower-GI explosion left in the living room by your beloved bulldog? Oh yeah, that's worse. I'll take the alarm clock any day over that.

Did you know a dog could develop colitis? Funny...neither did I. But apparently it's not only possible, it has happened to my high-maintenance Sophie.

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "When it rains, it pours." Well, I've got one better. My daddy says, "If it ain't piss ants, it's cockroaches." After this past week, I'd have to say we have an infestation! If only poop were as easy to get rid of as a cockroach...

Bless her heart, when Sophie is dead and gone I swear I won't have so much as a goldfish living in my house! My new theory: Houses are for people and people only.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yes, but will I ever use this in the REAL world?

I don't know exactly how old I was when I started learning basic math skills. I suppose I learned to count somewhere around preschool. I remember practicing counting money in the first grade sitting next to Josh Moore (who was much cuter and more interesting than fake quarters). And I'm pretty sure multiplication tables came into play in about the 3rd grade.

I'm a product of the Morgan County Public School System, and yet, somehow, I can count all the way to 20 without consulting my fingers and toes! (This is in no way a slam to all the very fine educators that shaped my impressionable young mind throughout my school years.) For those of you who may have grown up near Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, I'm sure you learned to count even higher with all those extra digits!

At this point in my life, I couldn't tell you an x-axis from my elbow! Yes, I breezed through high school calculus. Why? Because I have a knack for retaining information for only as long as I need it. I could memorize a formula and regurgitate it for a test just long enough to make an A. Then it flew out of my mind faster than a cockroach scurrying away when someone turns on the light!

When the final semester of my senior year at the University of South Alabama in Mobile (pronounced Mow-Bee-Yul for you Yanks) rolled around, my advisor had some bad news. I was one math credit short, so I'd have to take a math class during what was supposed to be my "cruise control" semester. So, I did what any respectable college senior would do. I took statistics. Mistake, especially for the summer semester.

I rolled into the 8am statistics class on the first day only to be confronted by a 23-year-old excuse for a professor in a denim mini skirt and high heels. Everyone else in the class had the same glassy-eyed look on their face. It should've been relatively simple, right? "If you have 12 marbles in a bag, and Sally is dating Tom, and the sky is blue on Wednesdays, what is the probability you'll draw a yellow marble from the bag?" Well, Malibu Barbie's evil brunette twin made it way more complicated than it ever needed to be! Imagine the voice of your kindergarten teacher...that's how this lady talked. And my favorite all-time quote from her was, "This is soooo easy. I just don't understand why you all don't get it." All I can say is, thank the good Lord for study groups! I squeaked by and passed the class just in time to get that nice little piece of paper that cost me several thousand dollars (but proves to the world that I'm educated).

My question about math is this: Will I ever use this in the REAL world? I can't imagine a time since high school that I've ever had to plot a line on a graph or actually use Pi for ANYTHING. Utterly useless to me in my day-to-day. I couldn't rattle off the name of one single function (sorry Ms. Jester) and I don't really care to know the value of 'y' in an equation.

And I'm pretty sure that the one and only reason I learned anything about percentages was to figure out the sale price of items at a department store! However, that was more of a practical lesson instilled by my long line of shopaholics.

Moral of this somewhat lengthy story: unless it helps you figure out the final markdown price of that killer pair of shoes on the red-dot clearance table at the mall, you'll NEVER use it! Now, why do I have the sudden urge to go to Blue Ribbon Shoes?

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Like most people raised out in the sticks, the men in my family embrace the hunter-gatherer role. So when I got a text message from my darling husband at 2pm yesterday that simply read, "Dinner at the Willis house," I unfortunately knew what was in store - wild game in some form.

My brother is seven years my junior and lives by the Duck Commander's motto: Arise. Kill. Eat. If there's an open season for it, he's got the ammo to handle the job. Squirrels fear him and ducks don't stand a flappin' chance. But on last night's dinner table was a deer he harvested this past winter. Now to be fair to the poor deer who sacrificed his life for my family's southern fried dinner, if it has even the slightest hint of an antler Jon Wesley Brasher will pull the trigger. He doesn't subscribe to the school of thought of taking the "grandfather buck" and letting the others grow to maturity. In fact, I'd be willing to be a new pair of shoes that the pubescent specimen in the cast iron skillet barely had time to grow chest hair, much less strut for the ladies, before Wes took him.

So crowded around the dinner table we have 9 people. We had to bring extra chairs from the kitchen table and sit elbow-to-elbow to make room. There's country fried deer steak, field peas, creamed potatoes, fresh tomatoes as big as a softball, and cathead biscuits with molasses. Anyone else might of thought they'd died and passed through the Pearly Gates, but a Southerner knows that this is simply what Wednesday night dinner ought to look like. Dinner passed without a hitch. The only interesting topic of note was whether or not using "city water" made a difference in the growth of nanny's cousin Janice's tomatoes. All decided that it must, in fact, contribute to their divine flavor, as none of us could recall a tomato that ever grew as fine from our meager NE Morgan Water Authority hoses. There was also a brief discussion about turducken (a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey) and how my hubby thought it'd be a good idea to have his own version: Dove-Duck-Goose. (Are you thinking of the children's game Duck-Duck-Goose? We all were and a nice laugh was had by all.) However, this will be unattainable until my poor husband actually kills a goose. The closests he's ever come is having a loaf of bread at Big Spring Park. And somehow I think the city of Huntsville would frown upon the clubbing of geese.

The conversation stopped short when Birdie decided she'd had enough of the peas and potatoes and threw her fork across the table. Mom took her to the porch swing so the rest of us could eat in peace. Nanny apologized for not having pie, but with mouths full of buttered molasses biscuits we all decided there was no need for the empty calories. When the plates were empty, we made our way to the living room.

The matriarch and patriarch took their places on the couch and in the recliner, respectively. And the rest of us took to the floor. Because let's be honest, when you eat a meal like that you just need to lie down and let it "settle." Meanwhile, Wes has fetched a stunning piece of jewelry from the rearview mirror of his pickup truck: a necklace made of parachute cord with six woodwinds (his waterfowl call collection) attached with keyrings. It was then that my precious little 14-month-old got her first lesson at calling wood ducks from Uncle Wes. It was indeed a proud moment for Unk and an entertaining one for the rest of the brood. I must say, I think she's a natural but I don't think Max-4 camo is really in her suggested color palette. With her skin tone, I'd say she's more of a spring or summer.

At 7:45, we'd had all the fun we could handle for one night. So we packed it up and headed home. It's nights like this one that make me proud to be from the South, where families are so close-knit that you still have to call your momma to let her know you made it home alright - even though it's only 12 miles down Alabama Highway 36 between our houses.

I hope you've enjoyed go call your momma and tell her you love her!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

And Here We Go!

I know what you're thinking. How riveting can the life of a nearly 30, future soccer mom from the Heart of Dixie possibly be? And the honest-to-goodness truth is that on some days, it's as boring as watching the grass grow (but with this North Alabama heat, my grass is brown and dying).

Now with that said, some days are quirky. Some make you smile. Some make you cry. And some days just make you so mad you could take off your high heels and pearls and slap somebody across the face (like their momma should've done years ago).

I can't promise deep, insightful wisdom that will guide you through life's trials and temptations. As the words go from some gospel song I remember from my childhood is that "life is easy when you're up on the mountain" and I don't intend to take you to the mountaintop here! In case you're wondering, my mother played piano for a gospel quartet when I was a tot and I often piled into a full size van - the kind with a round table and blue velvet curtains in the back - as they traveled the Southeast to tiny churches for "singings."

I can, however, offer you a little bit of entertainment as I muddle through the day-to-day of my ordinary life as I see it: my View from the South.

I suppose this is the point where I tell you a little about myself. Quick stats: 27, wife and mother of one + a bulldog, Southern born and Southern bred (thank you Randy Owen). That's pretty much all you need to know at this point. I feel the rest will reveal itself as the journey continues.

In my opinion (and Lord, everybody has one) I'm the modern Southern Belle. No, I don't wear hoopskirts or make my dresses out of the green velvet drapes a la Miss O'Hara. But I do: 1) say "Well bless your heart" often, 2)know how to make chocolate gravy, 3) prefer SEC football over any other Saturday television programming, and 4) dress my daughter in something smocked every chance I get complete with a matching bow as big as her precious little head.

I look forward to sharing with you my experiences. Hope you enjoy!