To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before

I have my 25 year class reunion this year. In preparation for this fun event, I have been talking to many of my high school friends. During the conversations I’ve noticed many of my friends have memories of their interactions with classmates – very detailed memories.

What is wrong with me that I don’t have these memories? Was I that unfeeling? Did I just not have any friends? Did I party a little too much between then and now? (Probably)

Don’t get me wrong I have memories of impactful events (First kiss, falling in love, educational successes, violin teachers, confirmation classes, meeting my husband, learning to drive, smoking, drinking, that one day I was in detention, etc…) I just don’t remember interactions with female friends. I do remember traits about my friends that I absolutely loved. If I could go back to high school as the perfect girl it would be a mash up of these traits.

I would be funny, kind, smart, pretty, witty, strong, wise, caring, social, sporty, graceful, encouraging, daring, sexy, artistic, musical, organized, patient, driven, spiritual and loving. I can document by name the women who I remember with these traits, but I won’t and you know why.

As I prepare to go relive those days this summer, I hope that my fellow female classmates look back and remember me fondly. If not, I’m calling you out. If you are at the reunion this summer, find me and give me a chance to make it right.

Don’t Judge The Way I Ignore My Kids

Today our family went to lunch after church. We ordered our food, sat down and talked for a while and when the food arrived, we ate. We all finished eating at different times and as per usual, we checked our phones. As my husband and I were looking down at our phones, one of the men working at the restaurant came to clear our plates. As he leaned over my daughter, Hannah he said “Well it looks like you are the only one without a phone, maybe you will get their attention later.” (Wait, WHAT?!?!?!) I looked up at this man and when I saw his condescending grin as he expected, what? An apology, an explanation, my theories on parenting? I smiled and looked back down at my phone. (Try me, you high and mighty son of a $!&#?)

I’ve read the Facebook posts and seen the YouTube videos about how we need to spend more time looking at our children and less time looking at screens. Yeah, and news flash, I was looking at a screen when I did that. Here is another news flash:

All of my kids can cook, quote the bible, pot a plant, keep a journal, crochet, paint on canvas with acrylic and watercolor, take an interesting photo, read your cards, play poker and blackjack, and build a better mousetrap. My kids play every sport in which they have shown an interest. They have taken theater classes and attended the symphony. They have terrific grades and can hold a conversation with any adult…any adult. This list goes on – I won’t bore you with the books they have read or the personal discussion we spend hours in. I am ridiculously proud of them. (Obviously) I am also ridiculously proud of my husband and me. We like to spend time with our kids.

Sometimes we like to take a few minutes and focus on something other than our kids, like on a Sunday, after church at lunch. When we look at our phones to plan the day or talk about current events. Philip Seymour Hoffman died today. We love his work (the kids mostly just from “Hunger Games”) and as we were talking about this tragic event and navigating through discussing the drug overdose of a famous actor with our kids, some guy picked up our plates and made a remark about how we would rather look at our phones than talk to our children.

I smiled and looked back down at my phone. I do not want to take away his self-righteousness or discount his concern. It’s not the time for a snide remark or witty retort. As I glanced at my daughter after he walked away, it was clearly a complete non-event for her. She will never remember the exchange.

Score: Mommy 1, judgmental busboys 0

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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I have been avoiding Christmas like the plague this year. For reals. The kids put the tree up last week (I usually have that sucker blazing in the living room by thanksgiving) and I haven’t wrapped a single present. I feel like I’m being sucked into this holiday black hole whilst kicking and screaming and clawing to get out.

And then this weekend happened.

Friday I got a call from my bank, my debit card was being cancelled 5 days before Christmas because target needs a better security plan. (Christmas cheer -0, bah humbug -1) My mom flew in from Florida in plenty of time to see my daughter sing in her holiday All-City Choir concert and we had dinner with good friends and 4 giggly girls. (Christmas cheer -1, bah humbug -1)

Saturday we went to the mall. It was raining so everyone who may have chosen not to come to the mall the Saturday before Christmas…did. I do not like crowds and I especially do not like crowds who smell like “wet dog”. I also do not like navigating crowds when I’m walking around with a crack-dealer style wad of cash in my purse because my debit card was murdered 5 days before Christmas!!! (Christmas cheer -1, bah humbug -2)

My entire family LOVED the mall! The excitement, the sparkle, the anticipation in the air (smells like wet dog), it all felt like Christmas! There was a little sadness for my mom and I missing my dad who passed in August BUT we also had ROCKSTAR parking spaces open up everywhere we went that day and found amazing gifts. (Christmas cheer -2, bah humbug -2)

That night, we decided to go see a fun and light movie about the creation of the movie “Mary Poppins.” You know the one where the dad dies and the little girl weeps over his dead body. WTF?!? (Christmas cheer -2, bah humbug -3) (I hope my dad kicks Walt Disney’s ass in heaven for that one – though it not his style and it’s heaven and all)

So let’s move on to Sunday, bloody Sunday. We got up and took mom to church where the sermon discussed the hardships we face this time of year, including divorce, financial hardships and, you guessed it, the untimely death of the preacher’s father. (Now I’m just waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop out and tell me I’m being punk’d) (Christmas cheer -2 bah humbug -4)

Sunday afternoon after crying in the movie and crying at church I had NO intention of going to the Holiday Symphony and lunch with the family, but I went anyway. After an amazing lunch and a stop for coffee, we headed to the symphony.

The joyous music from a full symphony and choir was enough to squash any bah humbug! The kids were enthralled, Santa a Mrs. Claus showed up and the Tenor gave a heart-filling performance!! The whole thing ended with a sing-a-long and we sung our way out the door.

I am now jumping into this holiday with both feet. I’m a little late but ready to party!

Ice is the New Black

So last weekend the state of Texas was shut down due to a nasty ice storm. This was no surprise to me because although I was raised up north, I’ve been in Texas for almost 20 years. (Clue: They don’t use salt here – just sand(??)).

To some, my title quote may indicate a reference to a certain Netflix series regarding a prison sentence but that is not the case. My four days iced in with my handsome husband and 3 maniac kids was a perfect fit. Just like that little black dress or the sleek black pants that ALWAYS make you feel good about yourself. It was a completely relaxed little vacation from the world.

We didn’t clean (much) or decorate for Christmas or worry about anything. My son came up with a new term “relaxed homework.” This refers to his new style of laying in bed, watching television or listening to music while completing homework. (Granted, there is a TON of rechecking going on in this process) It’s easy, slow and low pressure.

My husband played video games with my son, like together…at the same time. While they played they talked. They really talked.

The girls played in the ice and went sledding and played in the ice. They also watched cheesy lifetime holiday movies until we were all begging for them to change the channel. (Spoiler alert: The girl gets the guy…always)

I cooked for real. There were a lot of OOOHs and AAAAAHs when I presented the variety of soups, breakfast items and creative lunches. I felt like a chef lauded by millions (or 4 – whatever) when I presented the final dish Monday night. Shrimp and grits with fresh green beans was a big hit.
I also got a boatload of laundry done but now I’m just bragging.

Now they are predicting another storm front next week. Yeah, I’m praying for ice.

Love Child and Proud of It

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50 years ago, my parents married at the age of 18 and 20. As the story goes, they had to travel from their home state of Florida to Georgia to elope because my maternal grandmother would not consent.

When they got there on March 17, the judge would not marry them because it was closing time and my mother was not “in a family way.” On March 18, 1963 my parents were married in a courthouse in Georgia and that is how it began.

4 years later, my sister was born and I followed 4 years after that. I call myself a love child (and my sister too) because I have never seen two people more in love than my parents. They were less a pair and more a unit – as in 1 unit.

We didn’t stand a chance. When we
each tried to play our parents against each other, they foiled our evil plans with their good communication. When we smart-mouthed or challenged our mother, we “waited until our father got home.” Our parents were always a united front when we children misbehaved.

I call myself a love child not just because of the love my parents had for each other but because of the love for us and discipline with each other they had to employ – consistently, repeatedly and reliably.

In a season of thankfulness, I have to include my thanks to my parents for being such an example of love and solidarity.

I Scoff at Bad Hair Days

This morning, one of my daughters was brushing her hair and said “I guess this is just going to be a bad hair day-ugh!” At the ripe old age of 10, I don’t want her dismissing all hope for the day based on the way her hair looks in the morning. So I did what any mother would do – I threw her in the shower and said “you don’t like it, change it!”

She went to school with a fabulous wet flip/headband hairstyle and a huge smile. I would like to think she learned a valuable lesson about self empowerment but I’m happy that just for today, she was able to own her day.

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Any thoughts on how to nip negativity in the bud or just start your day on the right foot are welcome!!

Q&A After A Very Bad Day

So my dad died last week. (Way to rip off the Bandaid, Amy) I know, sorry for that. I wanted it to be out there and now it is. I am not ready to publish details (and I may never be ready – so get over that now) but I will share this much: He had a lung transplant 2 years ago and it rejected.

So here I am sad, without my Daddy and I thought I would share some of the comments/questions I have received, (My thoughts at the time) and my actual response. There really is no right or wrong thing to say and every comment in this post was said with genuine love and concern — that’s why I found them so funny.

Q/C. Do you miss him?

A. (Uhm…wow) Yes, very much.

Q/C. Did He Smoke?

A. (Does it matter?) No.

Q/C. How long will it take to cremate the body?

A. (How long have you been retarded?) I don’t know, a few days.

Q/C. Is there anything I can do?

A. (If you’re Jesus, then yes, yes there is) No, but thank you for your thoughts.

Q/C. He was sick for so long. At least you knew it was coming.

A. Awkward pause…

Q/C. Were you close?

A. (again, does it matter?) Yes, very.

Q/C. Is it too soon to talk about the details?

A. (What? Really?!?!) Yes. It’s a bit “close to the surface” right now.

Q/C. I am here if you need to talk. / You know I understand. / My heart is breaking for you. / Let me handle (Fill in mom or work duty here) this week. / Can your kids come play with mine? / May I bring/buy you dinner/lunch/drinks?

A. (I think I love you! You are officially on my list of favorite people. Godsend!) Thank you.

In addition to being dumfounded by kooks, I was shocked by the sweetness, graciousness, beautiful words and speedy actions of so many of my friends. You are the reason I am able to giggle and roll my eyes at the crazy comments some people make. I can’t wait to see what you all have to say (or experiences you have had in this arena).

Sometimes Cheaters Do Win

“It’s just so frustrating to see people CHEAT and win. It’s like NOBODY CARES that they are cheating!!” This is the way the conversation with my son began this afternoon after his flag football game.

How do you tell a child he cannot cheat and harm others when he consistently watches other kids (and, sadly, parents) do just that and get away with it…even profit from it?┬áThere is no easy answer but I turned the discussion with this statement. “Yes, they cheated and won. They will cheat and win again and again. What exactly does that take from you?”

The answer is “nothing,” they took nothing. They won a flag football game. That’s life. Some people truly believe that the way to the top is stepping on others. Often it works – but at what cost. If we don’t teach our children to respect rules in a flag football game, how do we reprimand them for being disrespectful elsewhere? If we don’t help our young men and women learn about boundaries, limits and (again) respect, how will they act when it really matters?

My parents taught me boundaries and limits. I could toe the line just so far with my attitude and then there were consequences. Trouble at school meant trouble at home as well. I was expected to get good grades because I could, my parents didn’t pay me. I was expected to respect myself and the law and when I didn’t, there were consequences. I teach my children the same boundaries and because the times are so different now – many more.

I have very easy rules for my kids:

1. Dont hurt others with your words or “hands”

2. Don’t cheat – it takes the value out of winning

3. Don’t take things from others without asking – respect property

4. Be respectful to others – Adults, children…everyone.

5. Be happy with what you have, how you are right now, today.

6. Have faith. You are not the master of the world and neither am I. God is great, get to know him.

7. Do your best.

I’m sure I am leaving out one or two important items but, you get the point. Before you get offended or offer up examples of how my kids have broken these rules, take a breath. I know they have – EVERY SINGLE ONE and they aren’t even in their teens yet (13 doesn’t count). The point here is that they know there are consequences and I enforce these rules.

Going back to this morning’s conversation with my son, we talked about expectations, disrespect, fairness, and God. In the end I told my son “I know it stinks that they won. It makes my gut turn and my blood boil but at the same time I’m proud of you and your team. Your team didn’t cheat and your coaches didn’t cheat. You are good boys and you can hold your head high knowing you did the right thing. I am proud of you and God is proud of you.”

On a side note my prayer this evening will include the following: “Thank you, Dear Lord, for the lesson we have learned today. I ask your forgiveness for the thoughts of revenge and anger I had toward others today. I also ask that you please bless the other team, Dear Lord, bless them good and hard. Amen”

I Called 911 on Tuesday, What Did You Do?

Tuesday morning, my son woke up with an upset stomach. No fever, no vomiting, just a couple of bouts of diarrhea. At 7:20, I dropped his sisters at school and came back to take him to middle school.When I came in he said he REALLY didn’t feel well. The mommy bells in my head were going off so I told him to lay down on the couch and rest with me. I set my alarm and decided we would see how he felt at 8. At 7:53 he started kicking me and I thought he was having a bad dream so I touched his leg lightly and said his name…he didn’t respond. I stood up and saw my son on his back seizing; arms and legs pulled into his body, eyes rolled back in his head and what sounded like gasping. I rolled him on his side and got my phone to call 911. All I could think was “Dear Lord, Please DO NOT take my baby today.”

It is by the grace of God that I was able to recite my name, address and phone number to the 911 operator. I was shaking uncontrollably. It was about that time when he stopped seizing and lay there completely unresponsive – with his eyes open. “OH GOD HE’S NOT RESPONDING!!” I shrieked. The operator calmly asked, “Amy, is he breathing? Is his chest moving?” Yes, he was breathing. She talked me through the worst of it; reassuring me as I locked up the dogs and cleared the way for a stretcher to get through the house to him. he was motionless for about 5-6 minutes when the firefighters arrived.

He wasn’t lucid until they had him loaded on the stretcher. He saw my face and looked very worried. The face quickly changed when they asked him where he was – he looked like he thought they were crazy for asking him if he knew his own living room.

In the ER, all his tests (CAT scan, blood work, etc…) looked good. Wednesday he went to see his pediatrician who referred us to a neurologist for an EEG and ruined his life by telling him he was not allowed to play in his first baseball game of the season that night. She cleared him for all activities by this weekend except television, video games, swimming and baths.

Apparently, it is not unusual for adolescents and children to suffer a first time seizure. “Each year, 120,000 children seek medical attention because of a first or newly diagnosed seizure. Of such children, approximately 37,000 develop recurring seizures or epilepsy. Many first seizures result from an event such as trauma, hypoglycemia, or a high fever. Such provoked seizures might recur whenever the precipitating situation is present, but they generally do not require long-term treatment.” (http://www.gillettechildrens.org/fileUpload/Vol15No2.pdf)

I would have liked to know this, so I am sharing my horrifying experience with you. File this away in the back of your mind, parents: If your child has a seizure, clear the area, turn them on their side, time the seizure, and do not put anything in their mouth (My son bit his tongue). You will FREAK OUT and that is okay.

I will be praying for my babies, your babies and all of you tonight.

Are You a Teachers Pet or a Class Clown?

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Being a good student can make life easier even if you’re not in school. many of the techniques good students use can be adopted to business, parenting and relationships.

Are you a good student? Here’s a little ‘yes or no’ quiz to gauge your “teach-ability.”

1. When enrolled in a course do you pick and choose the classes you will attend?
2. When given homework do you write down the assignments?
3. During class do you ask questions and listen to the answers fully?
4. If given the opportunity, do you work extra credit assignments?
5. Do you find yourself looking for additional information on class topics outside of class?
6. Do you talk to friends and loved ones about class topics?
7. If you do not understand class topics, do you contact the teacher during office hours to get additional help?

If you answered “yes” to at least 2 questions consider yourself a good student. If you answered “yes” to 4 or more questions you are an excellent student.

If you did not score many “yes” answers, here is your opportunity! Practice the techniques listed above (modify if necessary – you don’t want to call your kids during school hours) and see what a difference it makes.