Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Points of Reference

There comes a time in everyone's life when one looks around and goes "DANG! What do you mean you don't have a point of reference regarding this?"  Wait, no?  You don't know what I'm talking about with that whole "point of reference" business?  Let me try to be a little clearer.  What I'm talking about is that time in life when you look around you and begin to understand that the younger generation(s) has/have not a clue of which you speak.

In other're an adult (gasp!).

I realized it several years ago when someone in the entertainment world that I grew up watching on television would pass on and I'd be sad...only to realize that my kids had no clue who I was talking about.  But in a world where things move quicker than a Kardashian changes "significant others"...this runs around a whole lot quicker than I had previously imagined.  And while I'm on that subject, will someone of the younger generation please explain to me exactly why anyone gives a Kardashian's IQ (the only thing I could think of smaller than a "rat's behind") about this particular group of people anyway.  Bruce Jenner and the Olympic thing?  Fine.  I get that.  I watched him win the medal.  But this generation knows him as the Kardashians' stepfather.  I mean...seriously.  I'm sure that the "Ks" are very nice - albeit extremely shallow and materialistic people - but what exactly do they do that is so amazing that everyone hangs on their every movement?  I honestly don't see it.

Plus Kanye's "baby Mama"?  No.  Just no.  And then name her "North"? North West (*sigh*).

But back to my topic...the other day, one of Jill's friends was lamenting that the younger generation has no idea about AOL "instant messenger" in a world of cell phones, texting, and Twitter.  Bless their hearts, they are starting to have point of reference issues at age 23.  I was in my 30's before that happened.  For reals.

Every year, some group with apparently nothing better to do but make me feel old puts out a list of the points of reference that the most recent graduating class knows not of.  Things that seem like they just happened a couple of years ago (like my graduation)...but now that I look back...totally happened a quarter of a century or more ago.  Sometimes I forget that I have a whole half century under my belt.

Last week, on our trek to Huntsville to find somewhere for him to live that is not under my roof (sad, sad day), Brian made me feel bad when I told him that I knew the route to Birmingham well because I had an old boss (aka "The Wicked Witch of the North" who had a mole that I imagined was a wart on her chin so it wasn't that much of a stretch) who made me drive up there (90 miles each way) every Monday for a staff meeting so she could have some "face time" or whatever we called it then.  I still haven't quite gotten over the fact that she took up 20% of my workweek so that I could tell her how I was planning to spend the other 80%.  I still made my goals in spite of her.  Not that we didn't have that miraculous invention called "the telephone" that could have handled that just as well.

But I digress...because, of course, I do...

That's when he told me that my recollections were almost twenty years old.


Okay, FINE, he was right.  I wore that road out in 1994.  He was two at the time.  Whatever.  Funny thing, though, I can still remember how much I hated driving up there every Monday and spending the day with "the mole."  Surely, there should be a statute of limitations on this kind of thing.

Here's another one that happened within the past week..I heard that the movie "World War Z" was written by Max Brooks...son of Mel Brooks.  I thought it was cool...until I realized that the kids watching this movie have no idea who Mel Brooks was.  Or that Max Brooks' mother - Anne Bancroft - was Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate."

See?  Exactly.

I suppose I benefited from living in a home where entertainers were watched and celebrated and it was multi-generational.  So, I learned who people were from my grandmother's generation, and my mother's, and of own.  I also had an immense love of reading biographies...that started when I was a child and continues today.  I'm interested in the experiences that other people have had, the shenanigans that they have gotten into or been extricated from...and what fabulous or just ordinary things that set them apart.  Things like...J.P. Morgan (a banker from the early 20th century...) grew Easter lilies...or that a guy I used to work with was the Duncan yo-yo champion for the state of Texas one year.

Come on...that last one is pretty cool.

Sometimes I feel bad that I didn't do a better job of exposing my children to culture...and insisting that they know more about history than they do.  Part of it is...neither of them really have a curiosity about people that way...and so they've found their own areas of interest.  Things like the differences in cars and what is cool about each make and model (something she has picked up working at Enterprise) and physics (something that Brian finds comes naturally to him) that sounds more like aerobics than science to me, but whatever.

While I may not have taken them to every play within a 90 mile radius (something that my mother would have highly approved of because that's HER thing)...I did insist that they know what decent music sounds like by exposing them to the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Creed, Collective Soul, and Talking Heads...just to name a few.  Not that it did a whole lot of good...Jill likes Country and Contemporary Christian...but every so often I'll hear her listening to 90s alternative...and I know some of it got through.  Brian is all over the map musically...but since he remembers songs if he's ever heard them once...I call him "human jukebox."  He turns on Foo Fighters while I'm in the car...and we have the best time just singing and riding around together.

Okay, I have fun.  Hopefully he does.  Maybe he is laughing at me rather than with me...hmmm.....

The older I get, the more I realize that some of what I know will become more and more useless as time goes by.  That I can remember the lyrics to songs by The Eagles or Elton John because I listened to them ad nauseum while I was in junior high when I was young and impressionable.  I probably could sing everything on the Grease soundtrack, too.  That ability has failed me when I started listening to music again in my 40's and was enjoying Linkin Park and Foo Fighters.  I know a lot of the words...but not all of them.

Sad, but true.  Doesn't mean I don't sing my heart out just the same.  Kind of like this...

My kids don't know who Johnny Carson was, don't remember much about 9/11, and weren't alive when Challenger went down.  They don't remember Clinton as President (so thankfully I didn't have to 'splain anything) and they don't remember when MTV played music.  They get annoyed when I call something by its previous name...because they don't understand why I find that strangely comforting.  The Dillard's Department store in town has been here for many years...but I still call it Gayfers because that's what it was when I moved here.  Big Dave and I had a friend who used to call Gayfers "Montgomery Fair" - what it was known as prior to I know I'm not alone in this.

In a few years, I'll probably be even less in touch with what is going on than I am now.  That someday I'll abandon learning the latest technology and I'll quit wasting time doing things I'm not particularly good at or following that about which I care not.

It is already starting with the music.  I don't know the names of many of the new bands or singers.  I haven't gotten too into shows like American Idol or The Voice.  Frankly, I just don't have time.  But every once in awhile I'll glom onto something and get obsessive about it (like, um, Channing Tatum.  Because yes.  Just yes.)

Here he is with his WIFE (Jenna Dewan Tatum) and his baby girl before she got here.  (I wanted to put a picture of his family, because it grosses me out to read some of the comments that young girls write on his Facebook page whenever he posts anything.  He's married.  He's someone's Dad.  Get over it.)  But still.  He's pretty, yes?  Yes, he is.  And he's from Alabama.

Okay, FINE, here's another picture.

Better?  Yes.

Anyway, the whole point of reference thing is probably responsible for a lot of the angst of getting older.  My grandmother used to love Jerry Clower records.

Me?  Not so much.

But then like stuff that I honestly don't I suppose we're kind of sort of even.

Like this...

Yeah.  "Thrift Store".  Yo.

Anyway, I love the fact that we all have some things in common that seem to never change...

Our religious traditions.

Flowers will normally make people smile.

Chocolates on your pillow make you feel special.

That a hug from your kids will melt your heart.

Channing Tatum (trust me...Mom, me, Jill...are all thumbs up).

Excitement during football season.

The almost any time.

Ice cream.  Particularly homemade peach.

Getting a handwritten note from someone.

Finding unexpected cash in your pocket.


The song "Sweet Home Alabama."

I'm sure that there are many more...but it gives me comfort to know that there are some things that I know haven't gone out of style or are obsolete.  That I can pass down my love of something like a golden thread to the next generation who will likely do the same.

And so on.

So, the next time that you hear a song on the radio and you don't know (or couldn't care less) who is singing...let that go.  It's really okay.  Our kids have no idea who Perry Como we're even.

Pretty much, anyway.  Bless their Rihanna-loving little hearts.  Because watch this and answer for me what is going on in this video, why her nails look like they do, and why her hair looks like it does.  I have no point of reference...

But that's really, really okay.  I have enough to explain with ZZ Top.

Yeah, well, whatever.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Vacation Week Wrapup

Holy cow, another "up and at 'em" at 4:00 a.m.  This means that the streak of getting up before I should has remained perfect during my week of vacation.  Seriously, there should be a law against this.

Last night, I had the bright idea of taking a "water pill" before bed because I'd forgotten to take it earlier in the day and between the ridiculous amount of salt I consumed at the shower yesterday (Fritos, cucumber sandwiches, spinach dip, cheese straws and sausage balls) and the Coke Zero that I purchased in line at T.J. Maxx (yes, another return) because I thought I might perish in that line before I got another drop of liquid...made me feel a lot like Violet in "Willie Wonka" minus the purple.

Back to that "in the line" comment...I have to give a "well played" to T.J. Maxx for figuring out that herding people in a snaking line that looks like pre-teens lined up for a Justin Bieber concert, moving at the pace of a Friday afternoon at work, and then putting a refrigerator full of soft drinks at the point where you think that you might not make it to the register but you can't fight your way back out of the line because there are 2,000 people in various states of frustration...was pure marketing genius.  I only waited in line for eight minutes, but that little burst of liquid anything combined with a small jolt of caffeine kept me from wanting to be a tee-total whatever to the unfortunate soul clerking that day when I eventually made it to the counter.  Naturally, I was destined to be waited on by a lady who was obviously angry that she had to work at T.J. Maxx on a beautiful (albeit humid as all get-out) Saturday because her disdain for me was fairly apparent.  Of course, it may have been that she recognized me from my many trips in and out of there to purchase and return, purchase and return.  I may even have my photo in the breakroom as "Returner of the Month."  Who knows?

Yesterday, I actually had three items in the cart after I waited to return the rug (and purchase the Coke Zero) and looked at the python of a line and said "no, thank you" and put back the vase, throw and pillow that would have exhausted the store credit that I had burning a hole in my Dave Ramsey wallet from said return because part of it was paid for on a Visa Gift Card that was a rebate from purchasing tires the month before.

See those nice little slots where cash is supposed to go?  If only.

But the rug has been returned, and I have $28.75 to spend on something fabulous assuming that Jill doesn't read this and confiscate said card.  Which could totally happen.  She can sense that I am carrying around a card with a credit balance on it like I can sense that someone has cake in the breakroom at work.  It's a gift, really.

Anyway, I got up twice last night, tripped over the dogs who were stretched out by the bed who knew by the darkness that it wasn't time to get up to beg for food, and stumbled my way to the bathroom. Riley lifted his head and shot me a look that I could see from the Vizio was "Wench, why are you up again?"  Yes, I go to sleep with the TV on and the DirecTV box shuts off after four hours or so of non-activity that leaves a glow on the screen that is not quite as annoying as the bathroom light that Big Dave turns on every morning that shines enough light for me to wake up "naturally" at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m. almost every morning of my life.  It is one of the few things that he does that truly annoys me, bless his early rising little heart.

But I digress...

When I came back from the second trip, I realized that my CPAP mask had come undone from the tubing and would require taping (I have a fabric mask.  And yes, it's pink.  My new one...that will be here this blue.  The only available one they had was "camo" and NO.  Just no.)  So, I got up.  And I was none too happy about it.

Again.  Seriously, who doesn't sleep in at least one day of their vacation?  Answer?  Me.  Plus, if the temperature in the house is not on "Antarctica"...I can't sleep.  Poor Brecksyn has to use a heater in the bathroom when she visits because she'd freeze solid without it.  It is cold in the winter because we won't turn on the heat, and it's cold in the summer because I hate sweating more than I hate being Alabama Power's bit...whatever.

I don't know what it is about me and vacation days this year, but I am downright determined not to have fun on any of them.  The first two I took in May involved running errands and doing colonoscopy prep.  Yes.  The last five that I've just wrapped up in June have involved me running from one end of the earth to the other trying desperately to get through a to-do list that was not only optimistic...but downright ridiculous.  Here's a sample of some of what I've actually done:

  • Returned a package that was sent here a week ago and needed to get back to its original owner along with the first slipcover I purchased for "Big Roy" (the chair in Casa Jill that I purchased for $10 at the Deer Creek yard sale earlier this month).  
  • Found a bedside table after purchasing several that didn't work.
  • Went to see something that I saw on a super-secret trading group that will work for us.
  • Attended a baby shower in Greenville, a Fathers Day celebration in Mobile, found an apartment in Huntsville, and got peach ice cream (and a basket of not quite ready for eating peaches but we're eating them anyway) in Clanton at Peach Park.
  • Returned everything under the sun to Lowe's, Home Depot, T.J. Maxx and Ross for Less.
  • Attempted to make curtains with burlap and muslin.  Still a work in progress.
  • Managed to eat at Hardees, Wendy's, Popeye's, Publix deli, Mimi's Cafe, Moe's, East China, Panera Bread, Street Cafe, McDonald's, Olive Garden and Arby's...many of them with coupons or gift cards. (This is not as much an accomplishment as a cry for help, just so you know.)
  • Oversaw the security system upgrades here and at Casa Jill.  Okay, they still aren't completely finished, but whatever.
  • Purchased a TV mount from a place that I had to find...which is difficult when you are only told the general direction, part of the name, and you are as directionally impaired as I apparently am.  (But to pay half of what I would at Costco?  Score!)
  • Spent "quality time" with Jill for two days...and we both survived with our relationship intact. (I think so, anyway.)
  • Did laundry, cleaned the laundry room and the kitchen, and got as far as the dining room table which is currently covered in all kinds of stuff that desperately needs a home, organizing, filing, or eradication.
  • Got my CPAP machine tube replaced and ordered the new mask that I am apparently able to get once a year covered by insurance.  (Rock. On.)
  • Floated in the pool for two hours, read two books, and wrote on the blog twice or maybe three times.  Can't remember.
  • Schooled one of Jill's neighbors because she desperately asked for it. (Heifer.)

I'm actually looking forward to going back to work and the gym so that I can possibly sleep longer than six hours a night and can remember to take the "water pill" in the morning instead of 10:00 p.m. like a moron because I'm on some kind of schedule.  Plus, I need to get off of T.J. Maxx' list of "uncommitted shoppers."  You know...people who buy stuff and then return it.  I'm sure that they hate people like me.  But when you have no decorating taste whatsoever, and you are trying to be helpful, you can't read your 23 year old daughter's mind as to what constitutes "cute"...there's a whole lot of trial and error involved.

And returns are just an outgrowth of that.

I have learned a few things about shopping at T.J. Maxx, though.  I've learned that they are mighty proud of their furniture.  They have some really cute chairs and tables, benches and lamps, and other assorted decorating pieces...but they want about twice as much for them as I can see them being worth.  I can also tell you that on more than one occasion, a woman has purchased something that was in plain view that I just didn't see.  Yesterday, it was a shabby chic three paneled screen that would have looked precious in Jill's dining room.  Or so I think now that she has it in her cart assisted by one poor guy who is apparently the "carry it to your car" guy for them.  I walked by it all week.  It was also priced fairly...which, in my humble opinion, was a first.  Hopefully you are aware that you have to really inspect what you purchase because for some items, the reason that they are there in the first place is because there's a ding (like a missing beak on a bird) or some bizarre color that looks like it would match anything...but in reality has orange undertones that make whatever color you put with it bring out that orange (kind of like my skin does with most anything...which is why I can only wear a few things in the makeup world, sadly).  I've had both of these occur just this past week alone.

In case you care, judging by what was at the Maxx, birds are in right now.  As is burlap.  Or maybe that was what has come and gone in the other 49 states and we are just getting around to it.  That's normally the way the South rolls. We didn't get the memo on "big hair" until "Friends" came on in the 1990s and "The Rachel" became a popular hairstyle.  I understand that it was recently revealed that her stylist was high when he gave her that haircut.

I know I've been to some people that I've been convinced were high when they've cut my hair.  But I've digressed.  Again.

Where was I?  Oh...the Maxx.

Anyway, I've also learned that if it is something that would be "perfect in the house" that it will be ridiculously priced or the number you want will not be available.  So not kidding.

But that wasn't the only stop I made yesterday afternoon.  I also went to Plato's Closet because I have a bag of clothes in the car that Jill went through and won't wear anymore.  They took four items and paid me $25.  I'm keeping it for my trouble.  The rest is going on eBay.

I don't know if any of you have used eBay to sell things, but I have done so off and on since 2006.  I've only had one or two unfortunate as a purchaser the first involving a Marlboro-laced box of scrapbooking supplies that were not what they stated to be (yes, I got my money back) and one as a seller (a cell phone I sold for someone didn't arrive...and they filed for reimbursement...and I didn't know because I don't go on there that often.  Fortunately, I had insured it with the U.S. Postal Service, and after jumping through their my money back.)  But the last "unfortunate incident" means that I have a 0% positive rating now from the 100% that I had enjoyed from 2006 until this year.  Of course, the fact that other than that one item, I haven't sold anything in a year is supposedly responsible...but I'm pretty ticked that I'm a big, fat zero.

I'm probably going to spend a few hours putting some of the items Jill has on eBay because they are from Ann Taylor LOFT and in great condition.  Plato's Closet wouldn't take them because they are considered "missy" items.  Whatever.  Plato's got two great deals in what I dropped off there yesterday...but I also know that this was my final trip because she has completely purged her closet now of anything that might be considered "trendy."

Good for her.

I noticed that they didn't take the one-shoulder tops and apparently those are "out of style."  I always thought that they looked a little bit Flintstones-ish anyway.

See?  Totally.

After the trip to Plato's Closet, I got in the pool in my ginormous bathing suit and floated around for what was supposed to be an hour...but was actually two.  I may just do that again today.

Last night, we had grilled tuna for supper, and I realized that I really do not like grilled tuna.  Like at all.  Give me that stuff in a can, and I'm all over it.  Put it in a one inch "steak" and I'm so not.  So, I ended up eating the vegetables (from Farmer Big Dave's garden) and sixty of the blue Jelly Belly jellybeans left over from the shower yesterday.  I still have about two thousand more.  Unfortunately.

Anyway, I'm up now after the second cup of coffee and am planning to get ready for church in a few minutes.  I'm fine for now...but about 5:30 tonight (when it is time to cook dinner, of course), I'll be exhausted and ready to turn in early.  At least that's been the pattern all week.

Have a wonderful day!  I will try to do the same.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Towanda Meets the Neighbors

Tonight I thought I'd be a good wife and offer to bring Big Dave a hamburger from Hardees for dinner (because I had a buy one get one free coupon, naturally) since he had spent some time late this afternoon struggling to move the appliances and a high-top table and chairs to Casa Jill.  By "appliances" I mean a washing machine, dryer, and our old refrigerator - which I'd almost gotten used to being in my dining room.

Almost.  I actually miss it being there.  I won't, however, miss banging my left elbow on the china cabinet while I sit here writing because Big Dave moved the table down a foot so that it could reside there.  (And has it been moved back yet?  Negative.)

Anyway, it was a nice break from separating receipts into necessities (two receipts for Publix this past month...TWO along with unfortunate documentation of a whole host of poor eating decisions in the form of every fast food place with a coupon including the mother of all bad food choices - Popeye's fried chicken) and "Jill is totally paying for this" (paint...and a few items that were budgeted.)  It was exhausting, but I plowed through it.  By "plowed through it"...I mean I have it divided into piles because the American Express bill is due tomorrow.

I hear the theme from "Jaws" in my head...

Yeah, I know.  An excellent ending to a typical week of vacation in 2013 for me.  I am SO American Express'  I mean, listening to Dave Ramsey every night is helpful only if you actually DO some of the things he says, right?  I have a wallet that I bought from his company that would be an excellent way to keep up with the cash in the various categories.  Except then I wouldn't have anywhere to put the credit cards.

See the problem?  Of course you do.  And so do I.  So, so wrong.

ANYWAY, so I was over there minding my own business and watching the love of my life and my 23 year old baby girl try to wrestle a refrigerator through a 32" doorway to the kitchen  (So. Not. Happening.), I just picked up a few things and swept up some dirt and really didn't have anything more to do.  The good news is that the refrigerator is currently plugged in and living in her dining room instead of mine.  So, he kept his promise about getting the refrigerator in her house tonight.  I suppose it was to his credit that he didn't promise to actually get it into the kitchen.

He left a few minutes later and I hung around a little longer to chat with the girls.  Jill hopped out to deliver a rug to the car (to be returned...because the people at T.J. Maxx need to see me for a sixth time this week fo' sure...and just wasn't "the one.")  She noticed that on my windshield was a note from one of her neighbors (two doors down).  She asked that I not park in front of her house and that I move my car around back.

Um.  Okay.  Except I don't live there.  Just dropping in for a few minutes.

So, I told Jill to write back on the note that we weren't aware that there was an issue where one parks on the street, but that she is in the process of moving, and it ended with the word "sorry."

Except she really wasn't.

She delivered it to the lady's door, and then came home.  I wasn't going to stay but a few more minutes, so I didn't bother moving my car.

Five minutes later...the doorbell rang.  Then there were two knocks.  We decided to let sleeping dogs lie.  No point in riling up your neighbors, right?  Except she rang the doorbell again.  And then knocked again twice.  (We got weally, weally, kwiet...but that didn't help.)  And then there was a third time when she rang the doorbell and knocked twice on the door.

Oh. Heck. No. She. Didn't.  Except she had.  Most emphatically.

Towanda greeted her at the door.  Yes.  Yes, she did.  I mean, the fact that we didn't answer the door the first two times she knocked should have been a dead give-away to a normal person that we weren't really up for a confrontation.  But apparently, we weren't dealing with normal.  Far from it.

She was a thin, blonde, very put together lady that is probably ten years older than me with apparently nothing better to do than monitor the area in front of her house so that her son can park in front of the house and it is rumored...walk her dog.  Has she come over and introduced herself to Jill over the past four weeks we have been in and out of here?  Nope.  Jill's introduction to her was when she was doing that knock-knock-knocking on the door business and ringing the bell.


She mentioned that she would like us not to park in front of her house because that's where her son parks...and that is "her space" dontchaknow.  Frankly, no I didn't know that because the last time I checked...the street is for public usage.  I can park in front of her house if I want to...whenever I want to. If her son can park his car on the street, then Jill can park her car on the street...wherever she can find a place. I mean, my child lived in Tuscaloosa for four years and knows the value of good parking places and being considerate.  But walking an extra eight steps because someone is parked in front of your house is no reason to go all batwing crazy over it.

Except she didn't see it that way.

It could have been the fact that I wasn't smiling.  Maybe it was the fact that we didn't invite her in.  Perhaps it was the fact that she said her piece and I told her that walking down to the house and introducing herself might have been a lot more effective - and respectful - than leaving a note on my car when I parked in front of her house less than an hour before.

She, of course, thought I was disrespecting HER by not apologizing all over myself and immediately moving to get my car keys so I could move my car.  So, she said that she was with the Homeowners' Association and would escalate it if need be.

Towanda told her to "Escalate away."

I also told her that Jill and her roommate were parking in the front because her Dad was parking in the back.  With a trailer.  With appliances on it.  Big "won't fit through the door without removing the refrigerator door" appliances.  I even showed her the refrigerator sitting there in the dining room.

And then she told me that I was not "providing a good example to my daughter like a good mother would" by being disrespectful to her.

Excuse me?

Let's just say that any mother who has worked for four weeks at night and exhausted herself and her funds to help her kid get in a house only to be greeted by her Mrs. Kravitz-like neighbor whining about the eight foot stretch in front of her house (because there was a Lexus parked in front of the house next door so I parked behind it) a pretty good mother.  That woman can kiss my entire behind.

And folks, that's a whole lot of real estate.

At this point, Jill decided that she would join the conversation and told the lady that she would move the car, but that in the future, to please not talk to her, and that she will return the favor.  She told the heifer that she would not park in front of her house, and that she really didn't want to talk about it anymore.  When the lady said "everyone around here gets along really well but we have to respect the fact that we have limited space" Jill told her that she felt that she understood her and repeated her request that they just not communicate in the future...then she shut the door.

A few minutes later, Jill retrieved my keys from the bowels of my purse and went outside.  She saw Mrs. Kravitz telling the next door neighbor heaven only knows what...but Jill got to the car and was in the process of moving it when Round 2 began.

Not exactly sure what part of "please don't talk to me...and I won't talk to you" was not abundantly clear?

And bless that lady's heart for thinking that Jill was a pushover and that if she could just get her away from that horrible mother...that she'd make her point more clearly.  Jill has worked with the public for seven years.    She has lived in a house with 44 girls in it.  She's had several roommates.  She was raised in my house.  The girl knows how to be respectful...but she knows how to hold her own.

The lady said that the car had been parked there for two days.  Wrong-o!  Jill's roommate also has a white car so she had been assuming that it was one car...when it was in fact two cars in and out.  She'd apparently been seething over this for 48 hours...which, at least, explained the doorbell ringing and beating on the door.

All because her son didn't have a place to park in front of the house.  Aw, poor baby.  He'd been parking at Casa Jill's anyway, we highly suspect, and her purchasing this home apparently messed up this woman's whole parking situation.  That's Big Dave's theory, anyway.

Jill told the woman that she didn't appreciate her throwing off that comment about her mother...because, come on, nobody should be talking about anybody's Mama, right?  Exactly.  I won't go into the rest of the conversation that Jill had with her, but let's just say that Jill is her mother's daughter.  Including agreeing with the woman when she described herself as an "old hag."

Oh. Yes. She. Did.

I am not one of those people that likes to get all up in somebody's bid-ness and I will only confront people when there is a reason like desperately poor service or when someone is being mistreated.  I pretty much thought ringing the doorbell and knocking twice three times within two minutes was enough of a reason.  Not to mention the note on my car.

Jill went up to the next door neighbor and apologized about parking in front of her house...only to be told "Honey, we don't care if you park in front of our house or even in our yard.  I was worried that you thought I was out here agreeing with her...and that was so not the case."

Good...sanity apparently lives next door.  Two doors down?  Not so much.

Of course, now that she knows that this woman played the "Homeowners Association" card on Jill...they will be sure to park in the back and make sure the grass is mowed.  As a visitor, I'll respect her wishes and find an alternate place to park if that's possible.  But that's me.  Big Dave said that he'll be making a point of parking in front of her house every chance he gets. In his big black truck.  Preferably with the trailer attached. Just because.

Bless his passive-aggressive little heart.  And if she thinks she wants to bark up that tree...then she will have her behind handed to her while he stands there smiling.  He's a master at this.

Maybe you are reading this and think that we were too harsh.  A bit too redneck...and borderline Jerry Springer contestants.  But I will tell you this...act like a jackwagon...and you'll get treated like one.  What she didn't know then...and has probably since figured that we were doing her an immense favor by not answering the door.  Maybe the next time another one of the neighbors ventures into her territory, she'll rethink that position and try another approach.  Like asking kindly after introducing herself.  You a normal person would.

I hope that in time Jill will find her to be a delightful - albeit anal-retentive - neighbor and that they look back on this someday and laugh.  But I'm not holding my breath.  Maybe she was right that I am not setting a good example for Jill by speaking out...but honestly...I think that is the best service I can do for her as a mother.  There are enough people in this world who apparently live to make life difficult for others...and the only way to defend yourself against them is to stand your ground.  If I've learned nothing else in the fifty years I've been drawing is that.

What I realized tonight is that I have a Towanda-in-training.  Heaven help us.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Casa Jill - Part I

Back in mid-May, our baby girl (who is 23...but it wouldn't matter if she was 63...she's still "baby girl" to us) bought a house.  She had a lot of help from a wonderful real estate agent (Kelly) and from a terrific mortgage lender (Laurie) and her parents, but she went from "I'm not paying apartment rent or coming home" to making us share her vision and realization that this might make sense in a low mortgage interest rate environment...well, to the point of actually owning the house, and it seems to have worked out okay.

Actually, way better than "okay" but whatever.

Before I continue this story, however, I have to tell you that the particular house she ended up purchasing is strongly believed to be by the parties involved as a "God thing" as it is referred to down South when something flies out of nowhere to bless us.  She was looking at foreclosures and had decided on an amount of money to borrow that made sense in her budget...not really thinking about things like resale value or how awful it might actually be to live in said house while major renovation was going on.  No...she got online and started finding HUD houses and had a list of three or four that she wanted Kelly to show her.  And she did.

But as they were going through the various neighborhoods, Kelly told her that she wanted to show her a house in a neighborhood of garden homes that had recently sold to see if that area would be to Jill's liking as the houses were fairly new and the resale value would probably hold should Jill decide to up and move in five years to somewhere fabulous.  They went inside and Jill loved it...but knew that it was beyond the price range that she had set for herself.  They went back out to the car, and pulled up the next place to go and found that the most remarkable thing had just happened.

A house in the neighborhood had just been listed on the website.  A foreclosure in the neighborhood with a similar floor plan to the one she had just viewed.

Of course, they went to see it, she fell in love with it, they bid on it, she won, and Laurie "made it happen" in the world of finance.

How awesome is that?  Answer?  Very.

Especially if you know that the paperwork for a HUD house is akin to the Miss America pageant in that those people are looking for perfection.  I do feel bad for the people who lost the house because she won it...because they probably didn't check a box on the form correctly and they rebid it to give them time to fix it...except that she swooped in and got the house by bidding more.  We didn't even get excited about it until the house actually closed, because Kelly had prepared us that anything could go wrong between winning the bid and closing...and she didn't want us to be a hot mess over it.  Laurie did a superhuman feat of getting the loan through the process in time to jump through every hoop that HUD laid out for us...and on time which totally rocked, by the way.

(So, if you are in the Montgomery, AL area and need a great realtor and mortgage lender...I can totally hook you up.)

The house is also down the street from the parents of ex-boyfriend #4, and Jill adored them.  So, she has someone in the neighborhood to borrow a cup of sugar from if it ever comes to that.  And the week before she closed on the house, a friend she graduated with and went to University of Alabama with is coming home to work in Montgomery and was looking for somewhere to live.  So, now, she has a roommate.  She moved in yesterday.  Not that they have a kitchen that is operational right now, cable, or living room furniture, but that will be rectified in the next 72 hours.

I hope.

And if God wasn't giving her any more affirmation that this is the right move, Jill passed her test and "grill" (where they question you about everything situationally) and got promoted last week at work.  It comes with a nice raise in pay.  Rock. On.

When she got the house, there was a lot of work to do, but nothing that required subcontractors and weeks of demolition.  Just some painting, replacing two rotten boards on the eave of the house and perhaps a little cosmetic work here and there.  It would take two weeks...tops.  Absolutely no later than the end of June.

Yeah, right.

I am married to a contractor...and you should know that many contractors are optimists.  Although Big Dave is honest about what he thinks will go down, he also is really, really prone to getting the whole "So, how long will this take?" thing really, really wrong.  That's because almost 100% of the time, someone wants to change something "while you're at it..." or the color that they picked from World o'Paint looks like something Linda Blair shot out once it gets on the wall.  Because the trick, you see, is getting the contractor there in the first place.  Once he IS there, nearly 100% of all homeowners will find eighteen other things that they want done or they'll choose to just "go for it" and get into something that they had absolutely no intention of doing when they called him in the first place.  Like scraping their popcorn ceilings off and painting them smooth, or knocking out a wall in the kitchen or painting the entire house instead of the bathroom that they called him to do.  This will wreak havoc with his scheduling...which is done normally six weeks out.

And the word "no?"  Hardly ever used.  Unless, of course, you want to do something stupid that he won't want to deal with and then that word will fly all kind of all out.

And people wonder why contractors can't get it done on time?  This is why.  I live it every day.  Not that he's complaining about the additional work...he's just trying hard not to disappoint everybody and ruin his chances of getting work from them (or a referral) in the future.

The loudest person whining right now is his daughter.  She doesn't understand why the two weeks has morphed into four on a best case scenario.  Why he can't just spend a few days straight getting it all done in spite of the fact that there are things like drywall (that takes days) and tile (also days) involved here.  That one can only paint for so long before one cannot possibly paint any longer.  Could be that she's getting a new tile floor in her kitchen, breakfast area, pantry, foyer, and around her fireplace.  Not to mention the new backsplash, the sheetrock repair of the wall that had the desk removed to "open up the space" or the closet enlargement in her roommate's bedroom.  Add new fixtures in some places, hanging stuff, and refilling nail holes from the previous owner who apparently had a love for hanging stuff just took a wee bit longer.

I'm just hoping that it doesn't morph into six...because I'm thinking right now that this is a distinct possibility.  The last two weeks will be spent doing the outside of the house including painting and landscaping.  She won't whine about that...she just wants everything on the inside ready.

Worst. Nonpaying. Client. Ever.

Okay, FINE, that is title should actually go to ME last March while Big Dave was trying to get ten years of home repairs ready in ten days because Jill invited some of my friends out here for my 50th birthday party.  Bless his heart, he was painting ceiling trim on the porch two hours before the guests arrived.

She has learned some valuable lessons, though, along the way.  Which is good.  Things like these:

1. Yard sales totally rock.

Yes.  In her 23 years of life, Jill was blissfully ignorant about yard sales.  To her...Saturday mornings were for sleeping in.  Now, she tracks down yard sales like a bloodhound.  She's bought two light fixtures (that are going to used in her master bathroom - for $5 each - or $10), a ceiling fan $10, and a tan corduroy chair and a half (known as "Big Roy") for $10, and a beautiful decorative pillow and quilt for $10 (which also had some other stuff thrown in for that price as well because it was a friend who was merciful's yard sale and she was pleased that her stuff was going to a good home.)

2. So do estate sales on Day 2.

Jill and I meandered through our first estate sale along with what seemed like a hundred other people.  We bought four brand new napkins for her table, a couple of Pyrex dishes, and a stool that matches her walls for $10.50.  I won't tell you that this process is easy...because there's always the temptation to stop and look with fascination on other people's really, really bad purchasing decisions made over a lifetime.

Which is excellent incentive to get my house relieved of stuff like this.  Like pronto.

3. You don't tug on Superman's cape, spit into the wind, pull the mask off the Lone Ranger or shop without a coupon at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Kohl's or Kirkland's because to do so is idiotic.

Ever.  Even at 20%'ll still pay more at all of these places than at WalMart.  Of course, I'd rather clean out the grandcats' litterbox than go in I keep a ready stash of BB&B and Kohl's coupons before I ever consider darkening their door.  As for Kirkland's...they have a little app you can get on your phone that has a little game that lets you spin for your percentage off.  The best we've done is 10%.  But having the tax paid versus not having the tax paid?  I'll take "spinning for 10%, Alex."  Just saying.

4. The big box home improvement stores really aren't so bad.  

The people at Home Depot are apparently trained to spot the truly clueless...and if you just take them up on their offer to help'll find the toilet seats in less than five minutes instead of careening up and down the aisles for forty-five minutes by your lonesome.

To say that my experience in finding what I need in this store is akin to a man of retirement age buying his wife something in Victoria's probably the best comparison I can come up with at 6:52 a.m.  I have learned that the giant signs that mark the aisles are indeed helpful, but that one can go in there for two things and be gone for an hour and a half without proper assistance.  I know this because I've done it.  I can also guarantee that if you go in there for two things, one will be on one side of the store, and the other will be on the opposite side.  Just because.

I've also come to realize that they sell Gatorade (I almost passed out the week after surgery trying to find some spray paint) should you find yourself feeling parched and a pretty decent bathroom on the end of the store where they keep the lumber.  Be forewarned that this is on the opposite side of the garden center...a distance of about a mile and a half when you have to go.  Or so it seems.  And yes, you will be asked if you need help at least eight times from Point A to Point B.  At least that was my experience.

Every so often, you'll get a chatty helper at Home Depot who wants to tell you what tile to pick and where the clearance rugs are...and that's helpful...but a wee bit time consuming.  Like thirty minutes time consuming. He did try to help us, though, bless his heart.

Oh, and get the carts that are metal instead of the plastic ones so that you won't want to crash your cart into a wall of granite samples to "make the clicking go away before you lose your mind."  Didn't do that...but certainly contemplated it.

At Lowe's, you have the opportunity to put all of your purchases on a little key thingy that makes it easier to remember what paint color you bought two years ago...or to return stuff.  I'm not entirely sold on Lowe's...but they do whip Home Depot's backside on the home decor aisle with the curtains.  We were able to beat out a lady from Georgia to get six panels for Jill's living room for $8 each, and then felt bad because we also had other curtains she wanted but ended up returning them when they didn't work out.  Jill was pleased that she had chosen the same curtains that the other (wee bit snotty) girl wanted and felt that this was confirmation of her excellent choice in parking those bad boys in her buggy.

(Oh, I used the term "buggy"...for those of you not in the South...I meant "cart.")

5. You really have to haunt T.J. Maxx, Stein Mart, Marshall's and Ross for Less if you want to find a deal..or you can just pray about it.  Both seem to work.

You may have a great day and find everything you need...but I'd be willing to bet that this will not be the case.  You are far more likely to find one thing you need in one place and something else in another one...and they'll end up matching.  We went to T.J. Maxx and purchased a floor rug and a few days later, a runner that matched was there for $24.99.  So, we bought both.  I've also purchased no fewer than three soap dishes for the garden tub...and returned two.  The one she liked best was $1.99.  Rock. On.

I think that most of us feel like we are wasting time if we go into a store like that and don't find anything.  I disagree.  I think sometimes not finding something just means that the timing isn't quite right.  And every time you go in to look pick up another idea or tiny piece of the whole puzzle.  I have a friend who prays for God to direct her to the stores and to the items that she needs to buy and over time, she has learned to trust this.  She'll walk right in to a store and find "the deal" that she can't pass up.  I know this...because I've watched her do it.

I am not going to pretend that I have a whole lot of time or even a whole lot of skill at this particular endeavor.  But I will tell you that I don't have a lot of money, so I have to spend time instead.  Kind of like planning a wedding with a skinny flower budget.  If you don't have a lot of'd better have a lot of lights.  Or something like that.

6. It helps if your Daddy is a contractor.  But because your Daddy is a contractor, expect him to finish on the later end of things rather than the sooner end.  Because that's how a contractor rolls.  

Yes, Jill has saved thousands of dollars in labor costs having her Daddy paint, tile and fix things in her house, but because she's paying him in hugs and appreciation, she'll come behind people that are paying with actual dollars.  So, telling her that mid-June was the earliest that the house would be ready...was not terribly off.  Yes, she can move in her bedroom and can use the bathroom.  A kitchen?  Um.  No.  That'll be another week.

Or two.

His best guess was originally the end of June to have the house habitable.  Looks like that's closer to reality.  But it is mid-June and she's moved in...or will be tomorrow.  But since she's set a July 14th Housewarming Party...I'm fairly certain that he will be finishing the outside of the house on July 13th.  Or the morning of the 14th.  One or the other.

Bless his heart.

7. Yes, you can wait to purchase what you want.  

One of the biggest temptations for someone like me who likes to get things done is to just move along and try to get things worked out if the cost is reasonable.  But this isn't my house.  This is HER house.  And it takes some gargantuan self control to not want to make it all show-worthy immediately.

Not that I have any money for this, mind you.  We are doing what we have out of money that was budgeted specifically for the basics she needs to update the house.  Then she found furniture...and we are very, very fortunate that a friend is letting us pay her over time.  We also needed to upgrade our refrigerator, so we hammered out a deal on that one and Jill is getting our old one.  It's all she needs and better than what she could have bought.  Now I'm set for another ten years or so...except I'll be eating beans and rice for the next three months while I pay this sucker off.

Not only from a financial perspective do I not want to buy everything.  But more importantly...I don't want to take away her appreciation for everything she has in her house.  So, I've focused on a few finding a slipcover for Big Roy, and alerting her to bargains when I see them.  I buy things and then I take them back if they don't suit...or she does.  I do get a few things for her that she'll pay me for that I know she needs or think she'll like because when you are shopping on a clearance'd better go ahead and pick up what you see or it will be gone before you can get back there to show it to her in person.  But other than this practice...I'm staying out of it...unless she specifically asks my opinion.

Which she does...because she totally rocks.

She is also blessed to have a decorator friend of Big Dave's helping her and some really great family friends who know what to do to pull it all together.  And trust me...they'll hear from us.  But right now, she is just enjoying all of the possibilities since there's no reason to limit herself to one or two choices while she is trying to organize her closet and use the new drawer space that she hasn't had in the past.  She is used to hanging everything up...and now she'll be separating seasons and moving things to drawers so it doesn't look like Ann Taylor Loft and Express threw up in her closet.

Because that's pretty much what it looks like right now.

Sweaters and tank tops all co-existing.  So. Not. Good.

But she's learning to wait until she finds the perfect piece.  To wait until she sees exactly what is in her mind's eye.  Until she has a great coupon.  And money.  Let's not forget that.  I think it is great fun to pull your house together over time...and to do it yourself.  I don't want to deny her that pleasure in any way.

So, the baby girl is pulling it together...and we are ready for it to be all done so that we can enjoy dropping by when invited to say hello or to just have a movie night.  She wants to host Thanksgiving at her house this year.  I just might agree to that.

Wish us well as we get through these last few weeks.  I hope that we keep the drama to a minimum as well as the costs.  I'm not entirely sure we'll pull that off...but here's hoping.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Reflections on the CPAP and Other Ramblings on a Sunday

For the past few nights, I have been wrangling with the dreaded CPAP machine...something that I know is simply a part of being a CPAP owner...much like picking up "gifts" from time to time is simply a part of owning a shih tzu.  (I mean, seriously, say the words "shih tzu" and then think about it.  It's not like it wasn't flashing a warning sign of this not-so-nice side of dog ownership.  Exactly.)

What I mean by "wrangling" is blind acceptance of the fact that I require a machine that blows air through my head all night so that I can actually breathe and am able to awake somewhat refreshed at the end of it all, as fun as I'm sure that was to read.  For someone who never had issues with claustrophobia other than the occasional elevator ride with too many people on it, being a CPAP owner and user has its own unique challenges.  I mean...anyone can be a CPAP actually be an owner and user is something different entirely.

Think about it.  You spend every night of your life with something over your face.  Not only is it attractive (not), it makes you feel a little like Darth Vader (or the guy in the yoga class years ago who used to breathe so loudly that he harshed my mellow).  You roll over in the night?  You have to make room for the tubing and remember not to roll over so violently or haphazardly that you send the machine crashing to the floor.  I've only done that once.  It was enough.

Last summer, I spent the better part of June and July trying not to hurl the most offensive mask and machine across the room.  I'd wake up with varying degrees of "freak out" or I'd have water issues.  See, under ideal circumstances, you put distilled water into a little tank on the machine and it sprays an extraordinarily thin mist of water vapor into what you are breathing so that you won't wake up with your nasal passages feeling like someone walking in the Sahara begging for water.  And most of the time, it does just that.  But there are times when it feels like you are in the Amazon rain forest because the water trickles down to the mask...or worse...makes a gosh-awful noise that awakens you because it sounds like firecrackers at a Chinese New Year celebration because water has gotten into the tube and it has to go somewhere.

This has been my reality the two nights before last night.  Firecrackers followed by wet mask.  Awesome (not).

Last night, I went to bed at 9:00 and thought I'd be able to catch up on my sleep.  Except at 4:25 a.m., I had a mini-panic attack wondering if this is my Sunday to bring refreshments to Sunday School.


Now I don't know about your Sunday School class, but I can tell you about mine.  It is loaded with women who can cook and who have no problem whatsoever bringing what can only be described as a "Southern Living Brunch" all up in that classroom every week complete with tablecloths.  But when it is my week, I usually spend enough to feed the residents of a third-world country for a month...and it still looks tacky rather than classy.  You know what I mean...the difference between a gel manicure and Lee Press-On nails.

I am still not sure if this is my day to bring refreshments or not.  I shot off an e-mail to our refreshment guru and I'm assuming that she's still in bed like a normal person.  But I can tell you this...if it IS my day...those folks are getting Krispy Kreme doughnuts and some biscuits from Hardees.  I mean...I'm going to have to embrace my inner Tammy Faye on this one instead of Martha Stewart.

Bless my heart.

But now that I'm up...I've taken occasion to read the Drudge Report and a humorous text from my daughter.  (Yes, honey, I'm sure that the subject of that e-mail will not enjoy the little fun that Karma had last night when she finds out about it), I've caught up on what happened in the world of Facebook last night, and I've had time to consider the fact that I'm going to have to learn how to make valances for Jill's kitchen bay window because those people at Etsy who are selling them are cray-cray for asking what they are.  I mean, I fully support capitalism, but dang, folks.  It's two seams.

Yes, someone wants $30.99 for a valance.  She needs three.  I'm thinking a yard of burlap and some stitch witchery and we're in business.  At least until the stitch witchery fails because the sun is beating down on it all day.  Which, by my calculations, will occur on the exact date and time of her Housewarming Party in  Just no.

I could call in some favors...but since I've recently had surgery and a 50th birthday party...I'm thinking that I'm running a little low on chips right now.  I know that my friend, Bonnie, who cleaned the carpet in two bedrooms and a closet yesterday in Jill's house for the price of one Country's BBQ sandwich and an extra bottle of carpet cleaner for her future projects is out.

Okay, that $30.99 isn't sounding so bad right now.  Except that I'm not sure that the fabric would match her walls and that totally would not rock.  Trust is going to match or it isn't entering Jill's house.  She's pretty adamant about that.

Except, of course, for the oversized tan corduroy chair that I purchased at a yard sale yesterday for $10.  For some reason, she loves it.  I'm thinking it is because it was only $10 and it's comfortable.  Now all we have to do is clean it and possibly find a slipcover for it and we're golden.  Big Dave left it on the back patio last night because he couldn't manage to get it in the back door.  He declared that it might not fit in the house, and suggested that Brian might take it to Huntsville this Fall when he leaves.  Jill was having none of that.  So, she and Bonnie got it into the living room last night and there it sits in all of its corduroy glory in the midst of the ballpark chairs and the $5 table of Brian's that we bought at a yard sale last weekend.  Fortunately, I didn't have to negotiate these prices because, seriously?  Who is going to NOT pay $10 for an oversized chair that is clearly in good shape other than being a little worn out and dirty or $5 for a table that is so sturdy that the only way it will ever be disposed of is by selling it to someone else or setting it on fire.  I'll sell it to someone else in a few years for $5.


I have never been one to go to yard sales.  I always thought I had to buy something if I stopped...much like I feel that I must purchase something at McDonald's when I stop there to use the restroom while traveling.  But since I've gone to a lot of them lately with Jill...I've realized that I don't have to.  I can just take the color boards from her house with me and if all they have left is a collection of children's games and clothes in size 10, I can just walk away with a "thanks!" and be on my way.

It was quite liberating.

I don't do terribly well in negotiating because I assume that if someone is asking a certain price...that it is because that's what they need to sell it for or they'd ask less.  So, sometimes I'll just decide yay or nay based on whether I can pay what they ask rather than asking for a concession.  Although I do love me a concession.

(Actually, I love all concessions...but let's not go there.  I've been craving a hot dog for the past week...which offends me on many levels since I am not at a ball park and I have some fresh tuna in my refrigerator which is a much better choice.  Allegedly.)

In my family, getting something on sale is the only way to go.  We don't pay full price for anything unless it is absolutely necessary.  Big Dave insists on the dollar menu when we purchase fast food.  I have a stash of coupons at any given point in time, and I will wait until something is marked down before I will buy it.  This is actually a generational thing.  I learned from my mother who learned from her mother, and my daughter has learned from me.

Which is why she's all about that $10 chair.  I knew when she rescued it off of the back porch last night that she intends to keep it.  Won't Big Dave be surprised today when he shows up to paint trim and finds it in the living room?  Yes.  Yes he will.

Of course, he'll exhaust himself again painting and puttering around her house...trying to get it all done since her roommate is moving in next weekend and Jill is moving in the Monday and Tuesday afterward.

Not that they'll have a functional kitchen.  That's going to be another week or so down the line.

And I'm sure that there will be a story in there somewhere.  Possibly two.

But back to my original issue...which I'm sure is more than a little difficult to follow because I'm all stream of consciousness this morning...but I just received a phone call that I do not have to take refreshments all of that angst was for naught.

Rock. On.

On the other hand, I'm up and ready to face the day...or the dirty blinds in Jill's house.  Whatever.  Sadly, I'm just not up to facing my own blinds...which is pretty standard for me, by the way.  I'll be happy to help you...but help myself?  Not so much.  But it is getting to be that time where I have no choice but to do something in the housekeeping arena for myself.  Because it is abundantly clear to me that Merry Maids is not going to materialize out of thin air.  And if I called them...I'd only clean up first and then berate myself for wasting my money.


So, maybe I need to call Merry Maids, panic, clean, and cancel.  Nah, that's lame.  Might work...but I'd probably forget and then I'd be mortified and out a whole lot of money.  Something I don't have any of right now between Jill's new house and Brian moving to Huntsville in August.


I am finishing this post this afternoon...after spending most of the day cleaning up, shopping for a list of random stuff, and buying coffee so everyone in this household will remain civil tomorrow morning. I'm about to go do a few things that need doing as I listen to the hum of Big Dave on the lawnmower after a full day of working at the houses of two clients and his baby girl.  Riley, the exuberant shih tzu is licking the bowl in the vain hope that from this action additional kibble will spring out of it like manna from heaven.  Brian just asked me what I was cooking for dinner, and I directed him to the leftover pizza that is in the refrigerator that is going to get eaten before I cook again.

Bless his heart.

In a few hours, I'll be back to CPAP wrangling and Monday again.  I don't know which is worse.  But both are a part of my I may as well embrace them.  After all...when they go right...all is well.  And when they go wrong...I'll have something to blog about.  So there's that.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Happy 21st Birthday Brian

Tomorrow...or today if you are reading this on June son, Brian, is turning 21 years old.  And this is my baby, folks.  His big sister turned 23 in January.  That was tough...but I spent a lot of time being proud of the fact that she finished the University of Alabama's marketing program in four years, got herself employed, and last week...she closed on a house...I don't really tend to dwell on how old she is too much.  Plus...she is my oldest.

Yet, while I was doing the "celebration dance" over there...something insidious was happening over here.  My youngest was turning into a legal adult by every standard that the government recognizes.  He is old enough to do most anything that he chooses to do.  Thankfully, he isn't interested in celebrating this monumental event by hosting a giant "throw down" because that's not how he rolls.

Thank heavens.

But yes.  Twenty-one.  The big 2-1.  Or as we say in the South..."that boy is grown."  Of course, I've seen signs of this "grown-ness" for some time the mature way that he tells the truth whether I want to hear it or not.  How he hops up to open the car door for Brecksyn every time she gets in and most of the time for me as well.  I've watched him work since he was 16...fight the health difficulties that he's experienced from time to time...and just forgive a lot of people for overlooking what an incredible, awesome person he is.

That's their loss, by the way.  Seriously.  So many other people have taken the time to tell me how much they think of Brian...that I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard it.

But as I think about him turning twenty-one tomorrow...I have to think back to the day before he was born when I was sitting cross-legged on the stained tan carpet in my living room in Deerfield watching a breastfeeding tape and crying because I was scared.  Not of the actual getting him here part...I'd been down a much tougher road with Jill...but of what I was going to do with him once he arrived.

I grew up in a house of women.  I knew not what to do with a young male child who would be a completely foreign creature in almost every way.  And if you knew what Jill was like at age 2...I was honestly afraid that I couldn't handle them both.  I was hoping he'd be as sweet as one nephew and as fun as the other one.  I tried to prepare myself because I'd been happy just being his Mom carrying him around for nine months.

I needn't have worried.

God knows what we can handle...and for reasons known only to His infinite mercy and love for me...he gave me Brian.  The child who never cried unless he seriously needed something, didn't demand attention, and whose worse faults have always been a bit of eating pickiness, an inability to see a mess that is downright obvious to the other 99% of the population, and an exhausting tendency to procrastinate to such a degree that our interactions at times make me look like a Jerry Springer contestant screaming "Oh, no you didn't..."

Because often it was because, well, he didn't.  And he should have.

In the grand scheme of things...he'll also tell you that 99.9% of any drama that we have had between us over the past 21 years is due to one of those three things.  Not coming in at an ungodly hour, getting arrested, or even having a cocktail when he was underage.  He did none of that.

Yeah, that messy room is looking far better now that I think about it.  Just don't tell HIM that.  I remember putting him in his room at age 5 and telling him that he couldn't come out until he cleaned up his toys.  I checked on him every so often...and he'd be happily sitting in his room playing.  An hour later...the room was far worse looking than it was when I put him in there...but he was happy.  Bless his messy little heart.

I can honestly sit here and tell you that the little boy that they put in my arms 21 years ago has been one of the biggest joys of my life.  He has made me proud watching him grow up and handle everything thrown at him with grace.  I've looked at his sweet face with the darling dimples and wondered what in the world I did right to make me lucky enough to be his Mom.  Some days I feel like the stork made a mistake.  But then I see his father's eyes and the traces of my mother's face in his...and I know he's ours.  Thankfully.

I am amazed at the fact that he can do things like calculus and physics and actually understands them.  That he can take anything apart and put it back together...and that he can figure out how to make money when he needs to.  How he can imagine something and figure out a way to bring it to fruition.  That he can draw something that actually looks like what he intends.  How every person that he comes into contact with tells me what a wonderful human being he is.

And he is.

I suppose that there's a part of me that feels like I do when I clean the kitchen and hang the damp towel to dry right before I turn out the light.  The job is done.  My children are grown.  Oh, I think that they still need me and I'm sure that there are many more adventures in front of us...but I have seen the tiny glimpses of what he was going to be when he was a tiny little guy who ran everywhere instead of walking meld into this wonderful son of mine.  I know that God will use him to do mighty things in this life...because he belongs to Him.  And while I know that one day, he will need me even less than he does today, I also know that there's a small part of him that will always be my boy.  Today I am seeing him sit on the couch with his sweet girlfriend...watching a movie and laughing.  He's leaving enough of a "kid" here so that I don't feel like I have to panic...yet.

Not that he ever needed much from me other than to give him the occasional hug and tell him how awesome he is.  Which, truth be told...really wasn't that hard.  And between us...I think that it was really me that needed the hugs.  In fact, I'm quite certain of it.

Tomorrow he will be 21...and the beautiful little blond curly haired boy of my memories has been replaced by a grown up, handsome, brunette, capable man who makes me proud every day of my life.

Happy Birthday, son.  Know how much I love you and how many dreams of mine you have already fulfilled.  I cannot wait to see how you navigate the coming years and how wonderful your life turns out to be.  You deserve every single bit of everything amazing that comes your way.  You truly do.

I'm just grateful that I am your Mom.  Today and every day.