Just Like Her Mom

They say if a man wants to know what his future wife will be like, all he needs to do is look at her mother.

That can be good OR bad. Some women might not want to be like their mother, but for me, I hope I’m exactly like my mom.

There is something about moms that make everything okay. I’m 44 years old, but when I feel like I’m going to puke, I want my mom. When something makes me sad? I want my mom. When I have good news?

Okay, first I call my husband, and then I call my mom.

But what if I need to complain about my husband? Who do I call?

Yep.

My mom, who everyone calls “Ninny”.

Banma, Mom, Me & Cathy, 1969

Banma, Mom, Me & Cathy, 1969

She is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known, and most of the time it’s completely unintentional. We have always had many different ways to communicate – and not just looks or cryptic sounds. She actually taught us the sign language for “Watch out – Daddy’s about to blow his top” so that we would know without words when Daddy was in a bad mood.

Ninny learned everything from her own wonderful mom. My grandmother, Banma, is probably the sweetest person alive. She is 94 years old and still living on the farm she grew up on, going to the same church she was baptized in, and a friend to everyone she meets.

My mom said that she never heard Banma raise her voice. Clearly, that gene did not flow down to my mother or my sister or me. We have no trouble raising our voice but hopefully we got some of Banma’s sweetness.

Throughout their 52 year marriage, my parents have always been there to support each other. Ninny was a stay at home mom when I grew up, and my father happily worked because he loved his girls and wanted her to be at home with us.

Ever since we found out about my father’s cancer, I have been amazed not only with my father for fighting the cancer so hard, but I am in awe at my mother’s strength. I always knew she was strong, but to be strong enough to care for my dad, as well as her own mother, could easily cause an IronMan to crumble…but not Ninny.

To know how much Ninny is loved and needed, you only have to look as far as this Mother’s Day. I offered to stay with my dad, who has been sick from the chemo treatments, so that my mom could visit Banma for Mother’s Day. But he declined and said “No offense, sweetheart, but I need my Ninny”, and then went on the long drive with her to Mississippi even though he was feeling terrible.

I get it. She can make anything better.

And I thank God every day for her.

When I go to my final resting place, I can only pray that someone will give me the greatest compliment I can imagine.

I hope they’ll say “She was just like her mother.”

Mom, Banma, Me & Cathy, 2011

Mom, Banma, Me & Cathy, 2011

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Time Marches On

My husband gets so tired of me correcting him when he says how old I am. Yes, I will be 45 years old this year…but I’m not there yet. I’m 44! So don’t say that I’m 45!!

I always joke with him because HE IS 45. I think he just wants to not feel older than I am especially since he is already getting AARP literature in the mail or it could be that when he doesn’t shave his beard he starts to look like Wolverine from x-Men because it’s turning gray.

It’s never seemed to bother him much, however, yesterday afternoon I think he finally understood my frustration with getting older.

Old Man Winter

Old Man Winter

We were in the car heading down to see my parents for the afternoon. I was driving, and Dale was in the passenger seat working on his laptop. Since my dad has been going through chemotherapy, his taste buds have become a little skewed and so we decided to stop at the Varsity and pick up some of their famous “Frosted Orange” drinks. He loves them and they are strong enough for him to taste so I love surprising him with them.

We pulled up to the Varsity and waited in line. When I ordered the drinks through the intercom, I asked the lady taking my order not to fill up the cups to the top. I just wanted them filled up enough so when she put the lid on them, it didn’t squirt out the top of the cup.

Dale just looked at me and said “You sound like Meg Ryan in ‘When Harry Met Sally’. You know how she ordered her food and had a zillion conditions to go with it – “I’ll have the Caesar salad but I don’t want croutons, and I want the dressing on the side”. The lady taking your order is going to think you are a nut.”

So I decided to explain myself to her when we drove up to the window.

“I’m so sorry for being so picky. My dad loves these, and since he is going through chemotherapy, we have to be really careful about not letting anything touch his food, so I didn’t want the cup filled up because I didn’t want it to squish out on your hand when you put on the top.”

She did look at me like I was a nut.

But then she smiled, leaned out the window, looked at Dale and said “Is that your father?”
I choked on my diet coke and some of it ran out of my nose.

Dale leaned over and looked at her, smiled and said, “Uhhhh no. I’m her HUSBAND.”

I couldn’t stop giggling.

She never missed a beat. “What kind of cancer does your dad have? Is he being treated here? I had breast cancer and beat it. I hated chemotherapy. I lost my sense of taste too. And I lost my hair. I’ll say a prayer for him”, she said.

I then thanked her and we drove off.

I giggled some more.

“Doesn’t it stink for someone to think you’re older than you really are?” I asked. I think at that point he understood why I never want to be labeled older than I actually am.

Dale just growled at me.

I remember a quote from “Steel Magnolias” where Dolly Parton said “Time marches on, and sooner or later you realize it’s marching right across your face.”

Yep. Getting older really stinks.

Especially when someone thinks you are your wife’s dad.

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.

Marriage Medicine: Laughing With Your Spouse

One of the things that I love about my husband, Dale, is that he makes me laugh.

Just a giggle at times. All out belly laughing with tears streaming out of my eyes at other times.

He not only makes me laugh with funny things that he says. He has an incredibly quick wit that always keeps me on my toes. Sometimes we will be listening to a song on the radio and he will start singing lyrics that the songwriter clearly did not plan on being in their song.

There is a song by Bruno Mars called “Grenade” which has the lyrics “I’d step in front of a blade for you.” However, my husband will change the lyrics and instead, sing “I’d sip lemonade for you” or “I’d march in a parade for you” or “I’d wear a beret for you.”

Something that makes absolutely no sense with the rest of the song.

But something that makes me laugh uncontrollably.

And then there’s the dancing. When Dale starts dancing I will giggle for the rest of the day thinking about it.

There’s not a song in the world, or a reason for that matter, that he won’t start dancing to. There’s the “I’m-done-with-work-for-the-day” dance, and the “Hey-is-dinner-ready?” dance. My favorite is his “Super Productive” line of dances – when he’s gotten a lot of work done. They vary from day to day, but here’s how they go…

His dances always crack me up because it’s usually a cross between someone doing the robot and someone roller skating back in 1974. He’s definitely got some groove.

My point is, you have to have fun with your spouse. You have to be able to laugh together, about each other and about other things.

Which brings me to one of my favorite pictures. We were on our honeymoon and were on our way to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I had been driving but started getting a little drowsy so I asked Dale to switch places with me.

He’s 6’2”. I’m 5’2” so I had the drivers seat as close to the steering wheel as I could get.

And this is what happened when he got in the seat to drive.photo(59)

My dearest friend saw the photo after we returned home.

“How did you even get a girl like Dana?” she said.

We laughed, because Dale got a girl like me, for the same reason that he got a girl that makes a face like this:
photo(8)
And we still laugh about it.

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.

Letters To Banma

Every Monday morning after I have gotten my step-son up and ready for school, I sit down at our breakfast bar and get out my nice stationery and pen.

I begin to write.

I write about what went on that particular week. I write about how my son is doing in college and what my step-kids are doing. I write about how cold the weather has gotten and how I can’t wait until spring time so I can plant in my garden. I write about the cold I think I’m getting and I hope I don’t pass it on to my husband. And how I probably should have gotten a flu shot but because I am mentally allergic to needles, I never made the time to get one. I write about the house we just moved into and how I am finally getting everything unpacked.

This letter, I write each week, is to my 93-year-old grandmother, whom we call Banma. Banma, Ninny, and me.

She lives in a little town in Mississippi and since my grandfather passed away in 1987, she has lived by herself. She doesn’t have cable TV so she only gets three channels using the bunny-ears antennas, and usually repeats of Lawrence Welk can be found on at least one of the channels.

She doesn’t own a computer and other than taking care of her dog and working in her vegetable garden during the warm weather, there isn’t much for her to do.

I picture her sweet face each week as she walks the length of her driveway (which is fairly long) to check her mail and when she opens her mailbox, she sees my familiar stationery. The thought of her smiling upon seeing my letter makes me so happy.

I could call her on the phone but since she is getting older, I find myself repeating things over and over, and louder and louder. She gets frustrated because it’s hard for her to hear me and so she ends up saying “Well, isn’t that nice?” to no matter what I’ve said.

I want her to KNOW what’s going on in my and my family’s life, so I write to her.

My mother, Ninny, says that when Banma gets my letters she doesn’t just read them once and put them away. She will leave them out on the coffee table and several times during the week, she will sit down and read them over and over.

Each day we all receive junk mail, report cards, tax information, and of course, bills. How nice does it make you feel when you open your mailbox and get a surprise card from someone? It kind of makes you overlook how stinky the rest of the mail can be.

So the next time you feel like texting someone or just making a quick phone call, consider writing a note or letter to them instead.

Because the day they receive your letter may also be the day they find out they’re going to be audited by the IRS and it may be the only bit of happy coming out of the mailbox that day.

My Gynecologist Appointment With Doogie Howser

I went to the gynecologist recently for my yearly checkup. I’m usually a procrastinator in general, but making this appointment is rarely high on my list of priorities. I know that going to the gynecologist is for preventative maintenance, just like making sure you change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles but don’t most people try to make it to 5,000 miles before changing the oil?

Everyone knows it needs to be done, but nobody I know ever wakes up and goes “Yayyyyy! It’s gynecologist appointment day!”

I get to the doctor’s office and sign in, then head over to the waiting room that is currently hosting several pregnant women and now me. I feel like the new kid in school that everyone stares at because she’s different.

After 40 minutes or so (who’s counting?) the nurse calls me back.

We go through the typical steps. She checks my blood pressure. Normal. Pulse? Normal. Then I get on the scales. I drop my purse, jacket, and take off my shoes. I even remove my Pandora bracelet in fear that it will add another few ounces. I let out all the air in my lungs and lightly step on the scales, like it will take a pound or two off the final result.

“Oh, you’ve gained a few pounds since you were here last year.”

Seriously? Does she not realize that I don’t know my pants are tighter this year than last? Do I need the nurse at my gynecologist’s office bringing that to my attention? This appointment is getting off to a bad start.

I’m already in a bad mood lady just because I have to be here. Don’t push it.

I am led into a little room with all kinds of posters on the walls with pictures of vaginas, birth control, babies in the womb, etc. Wow. This is not helping.

The nurse lays out a gown and sheet and I’m told I’m supposed to strip down to my birthday suit and put on the gown.

After a while, my doctor and his nurse come into the room. He’s new to the practice so I have never met him before. He looks like he just graduated from middle school. And he’s so cheerful that it makes me want to slap him. I’m thinking, “Please don’t be this happy while you are looking up my vajayjay because it will make this experience even more uncomfortable.”

He asks me tons of questions.

How many children have I had? Am I married? What do I do for a living?

Sounds like I’m being picked up at a bar. I squeeze my eyes shut. Please stop the small talk and get this show on the road.

He checks my tiny boobies out to make sure there aren’t any lumps in there. My chest is flatter than the table I’m lying on, and all the while he asks me if I have dogs, isn’t the weather nice today, and whether or not I watch football.

What?

I lay back and he does the “other” part of the exam. My knees are like magnets. They instinctively keep closing back together. It is clear that I am not enjoying this experience.

Then he does an ultrasound to see what my baby makers look like. They are 44 years old so they are probably starting to look like shriveled up raisins, but he says that everything looks good.

“Just please don’t see a heartbeat in there”, I say.

“Oh, nothing to worry about. You’re getting up there in age so unless you are trying to get pregnant, you probably won’t.”

W.T.H???

The humiliating part of the exam is over. I can only compare a gynecologist exam to prostate exam. In theory of course, since I don’t have a prostate. You just had someone poking around in your no-no spots and he hasn’t even bought you dinner.

I sit up on the exam table and he asks me more questions.

“How old are you?’

“Just turned 44.”

“Ahh. Are you experiencing hot flashes? Weight gain? Mood swings?”

“Yes. Oh my God, am I dying? What do I have?”

“Oh it’s nothing. You’re probably just experiencing early menopause.”

Early menopause? Seriously? I’m 44! Not 104! Didn’t my grandmother just go through menopause? She’s 93. I’m too young to be going through menopause. Here I was worried he was going to tell me I’m pregnant, and instead he tells me my girly parts are antiquated.

I sit there, stunned, as he goes over other symptoms. These are just some of the fun features of menopause: Hair loss, loss of libido, brittle nails, anxiety, paranoia.

“Oh great”, I think. I’m going to turn into a bitchy, bald, edgy, sweaty, freaked out sex-hater. Sounds like my husband is just going to LOVE the new me.

He asks if I have any more questions. I mumble “no” as I’m still trying to process the fact that he not only insinuated that I’m getting old, but he also just had his hand up my hoo-ha. I sort of feel used.
I could use some chocolate.

And as I’m leaving, Doogie Howser hands me a slip of paper, smiles at me and tells me to have a nice day.

I leave the office and go sit in my car. I look down at the piece of paper.

That little bastard. It’s a prescription for my annual mammogram.

To Eat or Not To Eat

For years I was not a good cook. Not because I didn’t know HOW to cook, but it was hard because cooking for only two people wasn’t always easy. (I’m REALLY not good at math so dividing recipes was a nightmare. Sorry, Mrs. Wylie, but that math tutoring on fractions you helped me with in high school DID NOT stick with me).

My son, Matthew, was always pretty easy to cook for because all I needed to do for him was boil water for his beloved Ramen noodles. Water is boiling? Dinner’s ready!

My friends from my previous employer all knew of my poor cooking skills. (I have been rumored to burn water and I MAY or MAY NOT have made a grilled cheese once, forgetting to add the cheese). On one company trip, the Vice President came to our condo stating that she had been told I was cooking…with vodka…and she was a little nervous. No need to worry, I told her. Turns out, I was a pro at making jello shots!

When I got remarried I was sort of forced to fine-tune my cooking skills. Now, not only was I going to be cooking for five people, but there were now food allergies being thrown into the mix. My step-son, Austin, has Celiac disease, so he can’t eat anything with gluten. My step-daughter, Bailey, has a nut allergy and also eats only gluten free food, and my husband can’t have MSG.

Oh, the joy of cooking…yeah, right. Not ONE of my new family members can eat Ramen noodles…it’s chock full of gluten and MSG.

Making two to three different meals for one dinner time isn’t easy, so I began to get creative with recipes so that I could make variations of the same meal.

Yummy AND Gluten Free!

Yummy AND Gluten Free!

I realized that most ingredients can be easily substituted with gluten free products. This past week I made shrimp scampi – one with regular breadcrumbs, and one with gluten free breadcrumbs. It was a hit. Austin gave it two thumbs up and actually asked for me to cook it again sometime. That was a shock because he is extremely picky…I never know what he is going to like or not like.

Bailey’s favorite meal is my homemade fettuccine Alfredo. The Alfredo sauce is naturally gluten free, but I use GF pasta for her and regular pasta for us. She asks for it every time she is over at our house and it makes me smile because it’s something special that I can make for her.

Cooking gluten free can be a bit frustrating for someone whose favorite foods always start with “enriched flour” in the ingredient list, but I’m learning. And there are still days when I throw a piece of fish in the oven because the kids don’t want to eat what we are eating, even if it can be made GF.

I recently got a nice compliment from the kids. Bailey asked her mother if she could make some of the recipes that I make for her when she is at our house because she loves my cooking.

SCORE!

I found that cooking can be very rewarding when people actually like what you’re spending the time to cook, so taking the time to find out what they love is worth its weight in homemade gluten free pumpkin pie.

Moving and Shaking at Christmas

This year, my husband and I spent the last few days and hours before Christmas moving from our home of the last three years to a new home less than a mile away. I know, I know. Moving at Christmastime isn’t the brightest thing we’ve ever done, especially since we were not planning on moving until May. But the home we have had our eye on came on the market over Thanksgiving and so we swooped in and grabbed it, even though it would mean we had to move over the Christmas holidays.

“How bad could it be?” we thought.

You’d think this would be a simple process, however, I can assure you IT WAS NOT.

We expected it would take the movers four to five hours to move us. Nope. It took almost nine hours. And they still didn’t get it all. When we realized after the five hours passed that we still had at least a third left in the house to move, and we were already wayyyyyy over our moving budget, we asked them to just start throwing boxes in the truck and then into our new basement. It started to look like a game of “Hot Potato” as they picked up the pace. So far, I haven’t found anything broken where they dropped the potato.

To top off the fun, the temperature was a chilly 37 degrees and since the doors had to stay open for the movers to get in and out of the house, we turned off the heat and I piled on the clothes. I looked like the kid from “Christmas Story.” For those of you who know me, I’m usually still wearing a light sweater in 80 degree weather. I was praying for a peri-menopause hot flash but just like when you take your car to the mechanic and it works perfectly, my body decided that I didn’t need a hot flash at that moment.

So I froze.

The movers eventually left and all I could think of was how bad I needed a nice warm shower. My muscles were achy, my core was frozen and my armpits smelled like I had never heard of deodorant.

But apparently that was not in the divine plan. In all of the moving craziness, we had not lit the pilot light in the gas water heater nor did we have any idea how to do it. Thankfully, Heaven sent us our angelic handyman to come by at 9 P.M. to light the water heater. (It could have been the pitiful phone call that I placed to him begging him to help us out. I might have also let out a small sob which could have been his deciding factor).

Regardless, three hours later I got my hot shower.

We unpacked for the next two days and finally got our Christmas tree up at 1 A.M. Christmas Eve since my step-kids were coming home mid-day on Christmas. photo(40)

And believe it or not, by the time my in-laws came over that evening for Christmas dinner, we had the house looking like we had been living in it for months instead of days.

The moral of the story is that with some determination, you can make something good out of difficult situations. (Having muscular men around to lift the heavy items doesn’t hurt.)

Now my days are being filled with changing out light fixtures, painting rooms, hanging pictures, putting away pots and pans, dishes and clothes. And the Angry Birds band-aids that I have on five of my fingers indicate my dedication to getting this house in order.

Maybe I’ll be completely finished unpacking by the Spring.

Because then it will be time to work in the yard and plant my garden!

Careful How You Hang Those Christmas Lights

In the South, you can always tell that Christmas is getting closer simply by the noticing the amount of Christmas lights on people’s homes that are actually turned ON, not just the ones that are usually left hanging on the house year round.

My husband and I were taking the kids and my in-laws to Lake Lanier Islands to see the “Night of Lights”, where you drive in your car, turn your radio to a certain station to hear coordinated Christmas songs, and watch the amazing light display that Lake Lanier is famous for.

We were all in the car, laughing and talking about the upcoming holidays, when we drove by a few houses that had lights all over, and several of those blow up decorations including Yoda decked out in a Santa suit and elves riding on a see-saw. (It’s just not Christmas without seeing something like that.) Multi-colored lights were thrown up in the trees; the owners clearly hoping for a beautiful, artsy effect with minimal effort.

As we drove by another display, however, our SUV to come to a screeching halt.

My husband and I saw it first. We looked at each other, kind of in shock. I choked on my diet Coke. He screamed out “Oh My God did you see that???”

My in-laws thought we had run over a small animal. They asked what was wrong so we did a U-turn in the middle of the road, drove 100 feet back down the road and did another U-turn.

Then, this is the display we saw:

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Okay, so I can reasonably imagine that you are having the same reaction that we did. (Thankfully, the kids just saw colorful Christmas lights through their virgin eyes and they just thought we were laughing at how pretty the lights were).

Was this a joke?

Nope.

This was simply a too-many-Budweisers-Christmas-light-throwing-in-the-tree blooper. To add to the visual enjoyment, the limbs were swaying in a light breeze giving it a nice life-like effect.

So people, please, if you are going to hang Christmas lights by randomly tossing them into the trees, do a quick drive by, so that people don’t think your home is a brothel.

But I must say that the entertainment value was priceless….and a year later, we are still laughing about it.