Prom Night-Mares

It’s Springtime and you know what that means…it’s prom season. (Cringe!!!)

Dale and I went out to dinner recently and we noticed several couples who were dressed up and heading out to the prom.

I couldn’t help staring at some of the girls, wondering to myself, “Where did these girls get these dresses? Ho’s R Us??” Where were the parents when these dresses were being picked out? Are they really okay with this?

“Oh, honey, you look so beautiful! Now just be sure not to bend over or else your boobs and your butt are going to pop out at the same time. And just remember, you’re Mama’s sweet baby girl!”

I felt like we were in the middle of a underage porn convention.

My dad would have: 1) never bought me such a dress, 2) never allowed me out of the house had I actually somehow purchased such a dress, and 3) probably have sent me to a strict Catholic boarding school (even though we are Baptist) just for even thinking of wearing something like that.

Okay. So maybe I grew up in the 80’s where your entire body was covered in either lace or bows or satin, sometimes all three at the same time. Some dresses even were “Victorian” style, with lace all the way up to the chin. (My dad loved those). It was “totally” in style and I can assure you, no one was offended at our dresses!

Compared to what many girls are wearing now days, I looked like I was going to an Amish Barn Dance instead of the prom.

HHS Prom,  May 1986.  (I have to hide my friends faces or they will probably never speak to me again.)

HHS Prom, May 1986. (I have to hide my friends faces or they will probably never speak to me again.)

What’s with these new dresses?

What’s with the weird cut outs around the stomach?

Or the dresses that are open in the back all the way down to their butt cracks?

Or the hemlines that are so short they look ready for a gynecologist visit? I mean, seriously, girls! We don’t want to see your no-no parts.

I’ve come to the realization that some of these dress choices are the gateway for someone who will one day be trying out for the TV reality show, “Teen Moms” or worse, anything with the Kardashians in it.

And the shoes…oh dear, the shoes. If you are going to buy and attempt to wear shoes that are 6” high, please practice walking in them a few times so that you don’t look like you have unbendable plastic Barbie legs when you’re walking. It’s not attractive.

So now let’s talk about the makeup. I know the makeup in the 80’s was bad so I probably shouldn’t criticize the current generation’s makeup. They too will probably have to remove their makeup with the help of a chisel and a blow torch. I’ll admit it, but that is the ONLY similarity.

Why are they trying so hard to look like adults? I can assure you that I don’t actually KNOW any adults
who dress this way, but then again, I don’t hang out at strip clubs.

I’ve got to tell you…I sometimes really miss the fashion of years gone by. They left PLENTY to the imagination and most guys weren’t going to try to navigate through the layers and layers of stiff crinoline skirts and taffeta, so it was sort of like a fabric chastity belt.

Now I know that just because a girl dresses in a way that us 80’s kids used to call “easy”, doesn’t necessarily mean they ARE “easy.” But if a girl isn’t “easy” then why in the world would she (or her parents) want everyone to THINK she’s “easy” by the way she’s dressed? Make sense?

Maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe I’m just like my Dad, which I’m perfectly okay with. But I am quite confident that my step-daughter will not be looking like a hoochie mama when she goes to her first dance.

Not only because her dad won’t let her dress like one, but because her dad isn’t going to let her date until she’s 35.

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Living In Sibling Harmony

My stepson, Austin, and stepdaughter, Bailey, are spending spring break at our house this year. We had hoped to be able to go to the coast for a few days, but work and weather have a way of taking priority over vacation time, so we are spending spring break at home this week.

No worries. Austin and Bailey have absolutely no problem with staying at home and playing on their computers. Both are whiz-kids when it comes to computers and when they start saying stuff like “servers”, “mods”, “jar files”, etc. , to me, it sounds like they are from another planet.

What has really impressed me this week, however, is how well they have gotten along. Austin lives with us full time, and Bailey lives with her mom. The way we have worked out visitation, the kids get to see each other every weekend and every day during the summer.

And they actually like each other.photo(74)

Without us having to ask him, Austin has been helping Bailey get her “Minecraft servers” set up…whatever the heck that means.

Bailey will walk upstairs, ask for his help and 10 minutes later, he arrives at her door, ready to help.

When I was a little girl, my older sister, Cathy and I did not have this same type of relationship.
I was the pesky little sister who always wanted to do whatever my older sister and her friends were doing. If they wouldn’t let me play with them, I would instigate situations that would get them in trouble with my mom.4887_94838426098_894094_n

Yes. I was a pain in the butt.

And they would get me back.

“Hey Dana! There’s a SURPRISE for you in the water hose!!!”

As I would pick up the water hose, I would put it up to my eye to look inside…and they would turn on the water. It’s a wonder I didn’t lose my eyesight.

Or, they would act like they were eating persimmons from the tree in our yard and they would say how yummy they were, so I’d pick one up and bite into it.

But it wasn’t yummy.

It was bitter and sour and made my tongue turn black and it felt like my mouth was turning inside out.

But I know my sister loves me and was only doing what older sisters do to their younger sisters. She is the person I call when I’m happy or sad, if I need to vent, or just need a sympathetic ear…and I love her.

So as I watch Austin and Bailey laugh and chase each other while we are running at the park I realize that they have a blessed relationship that hopefully will stand the test of teenager-hood, of which Austin has recently entered.

I know there will be times when they won’t always get along, but if they end up with the same kind of relationship that I have with my sister, they will be very fortunate kids indeed.

Even if they didn’t make each other eat persimmons.

Crying On The Shoulder Of The Road

Last month, we decided to take the kids up to Gatlinburg, TN for a weekend mini-vacation. Hopefully we would see some snow like we did three years ago. We had woken up the morning after we arrived to find everything covered in snow. It certainly would be fun if it snowed, but we knew we would still have fun even if it didn’t. (Hey – we live in the South and didn’t even get a dusting here this year. We get excited about seeing snow!)

We got up early, loaded up our SUV with kids, pillows, blankets, suitcases, phone chargers and iPads.
We were ready to go. I like driving, so I hopped in the drivers seat and we took off.

We had been on the road for about an hour when the “Check Engine” light came on.

I mentioned it to Dale but he didn’t seem too nervous about it. Our SUV is 11 years old, so lights come on and off all of the time. The “Check Engine” light being one of them. But this time it stayed on.

We had just crossed into North Carolina when I asked Dale if he could drive for a while so I could shut my eyes. Since I was up packing into the wee hours of the morning the night before, I was a little groggy and needed a quick power nap.

Less than five minutes after we switched drivers and just as I was starting to doze off, it felt like Dale was tapping the brakes – while going up a hill.

“WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING????” I hissed. I was tired, and when I’m tired, it’s no time for jokes.

“I’m not doing anything!” Dale said. “Something is wrong with the car.”

Now since he is always playing jokes on me – making it seem like we have a flat tire, or we are out of gas, etc., I usually don’t worry too much. But this time he was serious.

We pulled over on the side of the road. In the middle of NOWHERE.

I wanted to cry. It was cold outside. I was exhausted. I REALLY needed a nap. Except now we were stuck. I knew that the hill we were heading up lead into more of nowhere. If we could turn around and coast back down the hill, I remembered seeing a mechanic shop somewhere before we switched drivers.

Dale turned the car around and we rolled down the hill.

As if Heaven opened up and a stream of light shone down with Angels singing, suddenly, right in front of us, was a mechanic shop. And it was open on a Saturday. Hallelujah!

We rolled in the lot and a guy who looked eerily familiar like someone from the movie “Deliverance” came over to check on us. My first instinct was to lock the doors but it turned out, the look was the only similarity. This gentleman was genuinely kind and concerned that we were headed out of town and were now stuck at a garage.

He put his other works in progress on hold and helped us out.

Unfortunately, he finally realized that the truck was going to need a part – a part that they didn’t keep in stock, and wouldn’t be available until Tuesday. The mechanic called the local rent-a-car company so that we could get back on the road.

One of the interesting things about breaking down in nowhere was that the only rent-a-car company was called “Rent-a-Wreck…and it was, in fact…a wreck.

We headed out in a 2003 (yes, it was 10 years old) Chevrolet Cavalier (no, they don’t even make those cars anymore) with 140,000 miles on it. It shook if it got over 60 MPH and it smelled like dirty feet. I would not be surprised if a body had been transported in the trunk at some point.

But it was a car that worked when ours didn’t.

A week later, our SUV was repaired and we were told we could come pick up it up.

So, our “inexpensive” weekend getaway with the kids ended up costing about $1,300 more than originally planned. But we all had a blast, even if it didn’t snow. The kids (and Dale!) played Magi-Quest; we rode go-carts in the freezing cold; and we watched not-yet-released movies while snuggled up in our hotel beds.photo(73)

It was then that I suddenly realized that no matter what the final cost of the trip was, these memories actually were….

Priceless.

Just Call Me Grace-Fall

I’m a klutz. It’s embarrassing but it’s true. I try to be so careful so that no one sees me being a klutz but it happens anyway.

I think it started when I was a child. I was always covered in Band-aids and bruises. If I was on the playground, I was the kid crying at the bottom of the slide because I didn’t know how to stop myself from flying off the end and landing face first in the dirt.

TIMBER!!!!  (This clearly was going to end badly...)

TIMBER!!!! (This clearly was going to end badly…)

When I was very small, my dad was cementing the four corners of our swing set into the ground so that it wouldn’t tip over when we were on the swings. My mom had just bought me a pair of $35 Forrest Gump-like corrective shoes. Now to me, $35 is a lot of money, but I can assure you that $35 back in 1969 was TRULY a lot of money.

So my parents weren’t too happy when I stepped into the hole and went up to my knee in cement, completely ruining my brand new shoe.

My cement shoe

My cement shoe

Dinnertime was equally as difficult for me. I regularly dropped my plate, or more often than not, spilled my drink all over the kitchen table. Sippy cups were invented because of children like me.

I broke my wrist when I was a sophomore in college. I was a little sister for the SAE Fraternity, and we were working on a roast of the brothers. As we were sitting in the library of the house, I saw one of the brothers that I needed to talk to walking by the front windows. I ran out of the house and slipped, landing on my hand.

Keep in mind, this was the fabulous fashion time frame where full prairie skirts were in style. When I slipped, my full skirt swooped up and landed over my head like a parachute so I was sitting in my underwear on the front lawn of the fraternity house.

While the guys were at dinner.

Looking out the window at me.

By the time I got over my utter horror of the situation, I realized my arm was hurting a little bit. When I looked at it, it was already twice its normal size. And it was turning purple.

Yep it was broken.

On a side note…One of the upsides of being a SAE little sister and breaking my wrist at the fraternity house is that the brothers sent one of the pledges over every few days to wash my hair for me. I may have milked that one a little longer than necessary but seriously, who is going to complain about having their hair washed by a bunch of good looking guys? Helloooo. I may be blonde, but I’m not stupid!

At least I got it honest...check out my mom's foot after being cut by a stingray

At least I got it honest…check out my mom’s foot after being cut by a stingray

Years later, I was in the parking lot of my office building, and as usual, I was checking e-mail on my phone instead of watching where I was walking. I had the great luck of stepping into the only pothole in the entire parking lot. A 6” x 6” hole, resulting in the most unladylike fall.

I was, however, back up just as quickly as I fell, and the only proof of my embarrassing mishap was a ripped skirt and two very badly skinned knees.

I glanced around the parking lot. Whew. No one saw me. At least that’s what I thought until I walked into the building and two of my co-workers were clapping.

Yep. Just call me Grace-fall.

Four years ago my klutziness came to a head when I stepped off a four-inch curb and BROKE MY FOOT. Yes, you read that correctly. As I was walking down the sidewalk, a dog came running up behind me. As I turned to look over my shoulder I stepped down and CRUNCH…that was all it took. I was on crutches until I realized I could do more damage to myself with them than if I were carrying a sword.

I finally got put into a boot that made me feel like a lopsided giant. There’s simply no way to be ladylike when you’re wearing a 50-ton piece of plastic strapped to your foot with industrial strength Velcro.

The boot on one foot, along with a slingback on the other foot. Clomp. Click. Clomp. Click.

Now I’m taking vitamins and calcium like Tic-Tacs because I’m kind of terrified that as I get older and my bones get more brittle, I’m going to break my hand by opening a bottle of wine.

But you know what?

I think that just might be worth it.

My Mother And the Middle Finger Salute

My mother, who we call Ninny, is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. And the funny part about that is that most of the time she doesn’t mean to be funny. It’s completely unintentional – it just happens.

Some people are just funny because of things they do or the timing of when they say things. Ninny is a master of both of those things.

A perfect example of this would be what I call the “Glasses Adjustment” story.

And it goes like this:

My sister Cathy and her husband, Jonathan were at my parent’s house for a cookout, along with me and my husband. Jonathan and Dale have always had great son-in-law/mother-in-law connections with Ninny. They love to mess with her and she is just as quick to dish it back to them.

Jonathan was in the middle of telling us his favorite story about Ninny. She was staying at their house watching the kids while Cathy and Jonathan were out of the country for their anniversary. She was running late to pick the kids up from school but couldn’t find the car keys. She finally found them, jumped in the car, hit the garage door opener, and backed their brand new Mercedes into the garage door.

You see, in her haste she neglected to see that the garage door was already open and when she hit the button, the door closed, resulting in a dented car, damaged garage door, and a deflated Ninny. 2653_57801271098_5312612_n

Jonathan laughed as he told about Ninny having to call them in Italy to tell them about the accident.
We looked across the dining room table at Ninny, who was looking straight at Jonathan. She was giggling but he noticed that she was also adjusting her glasses…with her middle finger.

Jonathan said “GOOD GRIEF, I think that Ninny just shot me the bird!”

More giggling from Ninny.

My husband choked on his sweet tea, while my sister sat there with her mouth open. Jonathan started laughing.

I stared at my mother.

Our Ninny? Sweet Ninny? Did she understand what she was doing? Shooting someone the bird? The middle finger wave? The one finger salute?

And doing it so discretely that no one even noticed?

Not even her???

Until now.

The conversation moved on and we continued eating. Every once in a while someone would giggle.

“Does anyone want dessert?” Ninny asked.

“No, I’m good,” I said. “I’m trying not to eat so many sweets.”

Papa looked over at me. “You’re too thin. You don’t need to watch what you eat. You’re not fat like Ninny………..(enter LONG PAUSE HERE)……….and me.”

Dale ducked under the table in fear of flying dishes.

Cathy again sat there with her mouth hanging open.

Jonathan clapped his hands and laughed a huge belly laugh.

I looked over at my mother.

Who was looking at Papa.

And she was adjusting her glasses.

Daddy’s Little Girl

All of my life my dad has been my hero. He was always there for me growing up and is still here for me now that I’m an adult. The strength and stability I always felt being in my Daddy’s arms can not possibly be measured. He would carry me on his shoulders when my legs were tired. He could do the best cannonball into the pool out of all the dads. When I was in trouble, he could put the fear of God into me with just a look. And when he’d jokingly ask me “What am I going to do with you???,” I’d say, “Just keep me and love me,” which he still does. 4887_94743471098_643154_n

And over the past year, he has fought cancer by having a stem cell transplant and will continue treatments for many years to come. He has always been strong – not only physically, but mentally – he’s a judge as well as retired military. (Yes, my upbringing was a little strict!)

Knowing that the next few years are going to have their ups and downs, there are some things I want him to know to help keep his spirits up. So this is for my Dad…

Dear Daddy,

I want to thank you for being so strict with me when I was a teenager. I used to think you were the meanest dad EVER for giving me a curfew of 10 p.m., but now that I am a parent, I realize that what you always said is true: “Nothing but trouble happens to a teenager after midnight.”

Thank you for letting me be Daddy’s little girl, but also Daddy’s little tomboy. Thank you for making sure I could take ballet and sewing classes, but I’m sure at some point you wished you had a son. I was as close to it as you got. I love going camping and doing everything outdoors because of you. You encouraged me to go outside and play so I never was really interested that much in TV -except for “The Donny Osmond Show” of course.

Thank you for insisting on meeting my (and Cathy’s) boyfriends, and giving them the kind of handshake that could break their hand and letting them know they were in for it if anything happened to me. Thank you for telling me straight off which boyfriends you liked, and which ones you clearly DID NOT. Looking back on several of my dating mistakes, I realize you did know what was best for me after all…if only I had listened!!!

Thank you for teaching me how to drive a stick-shift. Learning how to drive an “H” shift was pretty tough on the old F150, especially since it didn’t have power steering or power brakes, but I think it is something every girl should know how to do.

Thank you for teaching me manners. I have come to realize that “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir” were not only polite when I was younger, but beneficial to me as an adult. These are traits I have passed on to Matthew as well and he, too, has seen how people react when they are treated with respect. 4887_94991191098_2137511_n

Thank you for loving me enough to give me boundaries. Although I didn’t get in too much trouble (because I was terrified of getting in trouble with you), I know I was not the easiest teenager to bring up. I got your stubbornness so I’m sure you saw some of yourself in me! And even though I never wanted to hear it, I thank you for loving me enough to tell me “NO” some times.

Thank you for teaching me to be financially responsible and hiding my first credit card from me when it came in the mail. You taught me that if I can’t buy it with cash, then I don’t need it. This is a lesson many never learn until later in life. You taught me that just because my friends may have new cars, big houses and go on luxurious trips, they are also probably swimming in debt. Because of you, our only payment each month is for our house, and if we don’t have the cash for other things that we want, then we save up for them.

Thank you for teaching me how to stand up for myself. As a single mom for almost 10 years, I had to handle things that can be foreign to many women, such as getting work done on my car. If you hadn’t taught me how to watch when someone was about to screw me over, I would have probably would have been financially taken advantage of numerous times.

Thank you for showing me what true love is. After 52 years of marriage (and counting!) you and Mama have shown me that marriages have good times and bad times, but you stick with each other and are there for each other no matter what. Watching you reach over and grab Mama’s hand just while driving in the car makes me smile.

Thank you for teaching me to treat everyone with the same respect. The circle of friends you have surrounded yourself with come from every race, gender, and sexual orientation and EACH ONE of those friends considers you to be a very good friend to them. What an amazing example you lead!

Thank you for teaching me right and wrong. Even when Mom got a speeding ticket in a different city, you never even considered contacting the other judge to get it erased. Instead you told her that since she was in fact speeding, that she needed to pay the $250 fine. I respected that so much more than you will ever know. So many others in your position would have “called in a favor” but you didn’t – and I love that about you.

Thank you for trusting me when I announced ‘I’m getting married!!!” only four weeks after meeting Dale. Although I’m sure you ran a background check on him, you still trusted me enough to officiate our wedding ceremony. To this day, that memory makes me smile. And thank you for setting the kind of example a good husband is. When I first met Dale, I was amazed at how many similarities the two of you share and I knew immediately that if he was anything like you, I had a keeper.4887_94743461098_2165253_n

I hope you are proud of me for what I have accomplished in my life. Everything I have in my life, in some way or another points back to you. Your guidance has led me to where I am and who I am today.

And although we know the next couple of years are going to be both good and tough, please know that I plan on taking care of you and Mama as you have ALWAYS taken care of me. Cathy and I will be the strong ones for you this time.

I’m all grown up now, but I am and always will be, Daddy’s little girl.

Let me carry you on my shoulders now.

Confessions of a Former Dating Loser

I met my husband three years ago on Match.com.  Many times when I tell people that they get this shocked look on their face as if to say “What were you thinking by dating on-line????”   Well to be honest, it wasn’t my idea.

I was a 10+ year Realtor who was suddenly faced with limited commissions when the housing bubble burst. I had a client who wanted me to list the house I had helped her purchase five years earlier because she had gotten engaged.  I met with  her and we talked about the house and our lives.  She said she had gotten tired of the single life and her teenage daughter talked her into going on Match.com.  I just giggled and thought to myself  “I may be a total dating loser, but I could never do that.”

I’m serious, I was a LOSER.  If there was another loser within a five mile vicinity, I was completely enamoured with him.

After she realized I was still painfully single since the last time we had talked (FIVE YEARS EARLIER) she said “I won’t give you my house listing unless you promise to go on Match.”  I got nervous.  What if someone I knew were to see me on a dating site?  Would my loser dating status just be confirmed?  Would it be embarrassing?  What kind of guy would sign up for online dating?  A serial killer?  Someone already married?

Then reality kicked in.   I started thinking of the fact that my mortgage and car payments were coming up and how desperately I needed the commission.  I reluctantly agreed.

I put my profile together and realized that it was sort of like writing about myself as if I were going into a catalog.  Interests?  I like camping, triathlons, anything outdoorsy but I’m still girly-girl enough to enjoy getting a mani/pedi on occasion.  Smokers?   Nope – not interested.   I did want someone who went to church but not someone who was going to make me feel horrible about a cuss-word slip up or a glass of wine.  I was also very serious about my political views (but won’t post them here!)  but I knew we definitely needed to agree on politics.

For about three weeks I received messages from some of the most interesting people I’ve ever come across.  (One guy actually sent me a picture of himself dressed as Abe Lincoln ….and another wearing a Superhero helmet.  One guy sent me pictures of his house.  One sent pictures of his pit-bulls.  One sent a picture of himself from what appeared to be 1985 leaning against a Trans Am, looking like Tom Selleck with the thick mustache.  But at least I didn’t receive a message like another friend of mine who I later found out was also on Match – her potential suitor immediately wanted to know her weight because he needed to ensure that she wouldn’t put them over the weight limit on his motorcycle if they were to get together.  Nice.  That one was definitely a keeper…said no one.)

Just when I thought I was destined to be forever single, the picture of the one that would steal my heart popped onto my computer screen…and the rest is history.  I sent him a “wink” which is sort of a computer cat-call.  He responded within a few hours with a long e-mail, to which I promptly replied.  We began e-mailing each other several times a day and then within a week moved up to phone calls before deciding to meet in person.

We decided  to meet up at a park where we could be out in public but we could talk and see if there was any chemistry.  If we didn’t like each other we wouldn’t be stuck sitting through a very uncomfortable dinner.  Meeting at the park was perfect because I had just gotten out of a cast after breaking my foot but was still scheduled to participate in a triathlon three weeks later. We could talk and exercise at the same time.  If there wasn’t any chemistry, one of us could just leave.

When I pulled into the park, I saw that there were two vehicles matching what he said he drove.  Both drivers got out at the same time:  one was in good shape, had a great smile and was dressed in black, and the other guy was wearing a dirty t-shirt and cutoff blue jeans, and looked like the only exercise he got was lifting twelve Budweisers a day.   I remember saying a little prayer that the fit one was my guy…and thankfully he was.

We thought we were going to only walk about 2 miles that afternoon since my foot was still healing but when I turned on my iPhone and checked out my pedometer, I realized we had walked 7 miles.  As I got in my car to go home I called my mom.  I told her I knew this one was “the one” and we would be married within six months.  Little did I know…

A mere four weeks later we were engaged, and eight more weeks later we were married.  We will celebrate our third anniversary this week.

Wedding day

Some people might think it was crazy of us to get married after knowing each other for only 12 weeks, but somehow we both knew we were a match made in heaven.

Finding the love of my life at an online dating website is something that I never could have imagined.  I used to think online dating was for the most desperate daters and although I easily fell into that category, I was completely in denial.  Why do online dating sites have such a bad reputation?  It’s really isn’t much different than being set up on a blind date through friends.  People realize you have something in common and you meet.  Sometimes it works out – my parents met on a blind date and just celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary.  Sometimes it doesn’t work out…but even then you at least  gave it a shot.

Who knows?   You may end up meeting your perfect match and living in your own love story.

And every love story is unique and amazing.  Ours is just my favorite.

Wedding day