Monday, December 27, 2010

Really, I Do Love Him.......

(NOTE: This will only be funny if you follow me on Facebook & saw my status that read "Preparing for 2011. Our motto this year is going to be 'I'm so sorry but you are perfectly capable of performing that task yourself.'")

I really do love my husband......but Lord, sometimes this man drives me insane. Why, you ask? Take for instance, yesterday. Oh, the DRAMA. It was Sunday, the day after Christmas & the day had alternated between crazy-kids-on-a-sugar-high-chaos & happy-laughter-while-watching-Modern-Family-DVD's. In all honesty, Brooks had shared his belligerent & angry side with us most of the morning, I can only assume, as a belated Christmas gift. And it was about to wear us out. As the day wore on, I decided to clean the hall bathroom & Chuck went outside to rake leaves. But like Taylor Swift music, our children are virtually impossible to escape, no matter how hard you try.

I'm in the bathroom, on hands & knees, scrubbing make-up, fingerprints & God-knows-what-else, off of the sink cabinet with Comet & a NASCAR scouring sponge that Brooks had chosen for me earlier in the day while shopping at Kroger. (He does have a thoughtful side, though HE is the NASCAR fan, not I.) I have the door shut, mainly in hopes that everyone will think I'm USING the bathroom & leave me alone when I hear a tender knock. And a little voice that sweetly says, "Mom, Dad needs you outside. He's hurt his pee pee." I smile & say something to the effect of, "Daddies don't have pee pees. They have penises. And he can't possibly need me & how in the HELL can he have hurt his penis raking leaves???" Then my mind races back to a cousin of mine who, for some reason had a car hood fall on his (I apologize for not remembering the entire story - it had to be good) & although he survived & eventually fathered a child, DID indeed injure his. So I decide to check on him, hoping the Prizm has not exacted revenge on his male parts for recently discussing getting a different car.

I reach the front door & much to my dismay, RIGHT THERE WHERE ANY NEIGHBOR COULD SEE, lies my husband, in a pile of leaves, in the FETAL POSITION, clutching Now this is where a good, loving wife would have run over and........well, what WOULD a good wife have done? "Let me kiss it & make it better?" RIGHT HERE WHERE ANY NEIGHBOR CAN SEE? Oh, no. Suddenly I am overwhelmingly pissed & I yell, "What on Earth could you possibly need from me?" And the following conversation transpired from that:

CHUCK: Bring me the spatula NOW. I'm going to kill him.
ME: Kill WHO?
CHUCK: Brooks! He hit me THERE!
ME: With WHAT? A bat?
CHUCK: His hand!
ME: Oh, please, he's 9! Was it an accident? He came for help for you.
ME: Get your ass up & into the house. It can't be that bad. And why in God's name would you be so dramatic out here in front all of our neighbors to see? I mean REALLY.

(Chuck gets up and makes his way to the couch. Noelle resumes questioning about what happened. Brooks realizes the gig is up & flees. Conversation continues.)

ME: So he hits you in the penis and you have to DRAMATICALLY FALL TO THE GROUND IN OUR YARD?
CHUCK: It wasn't my penis.
ME: Then what was it?
WYATT (always listening to any conversation): His SCROTUM!
(Chuck nods in agreement with Wyatt.)
ME: Well, are you gonna recover anytime soon or is this gonna cost us vacation days?
CHUCK: I think I'll be fine.
(Brooks enters stage left & walks through room)
CHUCK (never giving up): Brooks, go get me the spatula.
BROOKS: It's 2011. That's something you can do for yourself.

All I can say is everyone survived. And everything is intact.

(To date, not one neighbor has asked why Chuck was rolling in the leaves clutching his pee pee, but come to think of it, if I were in their position, neither would I. It's my hope they were all occupied & missed the entire episode.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One Year Ago Yesterday....

Hard to believe it's been a year since my grandma died. I think of her often, especially when I see a Cardinal, her favorite bird. And I've seen many in the past year. They're always a reminder that her presence is still very much felt. There is a pretty funny story, that I shared with my friends on Facebook, shortly after her death. When Dad went to order her grave marker, he asked the man if there was any way we could have a Cardinal carved into it. "Sure," said Mr. Jackson, "not a problem! We can do that." Well, in Missouri, you better specify "woodland Cardinal" or "St. Louis Cardinal". Because a few weeks later, we went out to the cemetery to see her grave, and there in the center of her grave marker was a redbird alright. Perched on a baseball bat. Several people have asked if we're going to make them re-do it & we wouldn't think of it. Her grandson & son-in-law (& me!) are die-hard St. Louis Cardinal fans. We think she's laughing about it too. And another funny thing is that the last time Brooks went to see Grandma Dorothy, in the nursing home, we were walking toward the door & he ran back to the car. "I want to put on my Cardinal hat so she'll remember who I am." I like to think it worked.

We had grandma Dorothy's graveside service on my birthday last year. It didn't bother me at all since she lived a full life & was ready to go. She didn't have a painful or tragic death so if we celebrated her life's end on the day I came into this world, so be it. I gave the eulogy & several people asked me for a copy of it after the service. Partially because it was stored on my dad's computer but mainly because I'm a HUGE procrastinator, I never got around to sending it to anyone or sharing it with those who couldn't attend. So here it is, for those of you who missed it or asked me for a copy. (I can still send you a hard copy if you e-mail me at

To honor the life of Dorothy Summers Swafford (1922-2009):

Today we've gathered to celebrate the life of a woman who touched many, many lives in 87 years. Today should be a celebration of her life & it actually, we’ve all laughed, marks the realization of a dream for Dorothy, as she is finally the star of her own obituary. She used to scour them every day & tell us she was checking to see if hers was listed. We’ll be adding hers to her collection!

No matter how you knew my grandma, you can be sure she left her mark on you, whether it was baking you a fruitcake at Christmas, calming your fears about the needle she was about to stick you with, assuring you that your sick child would be just fine, patting your gut & remarking that no one was rooting you away from the trough, or ramming into you with the grocery cart & telling you your skirt was too short. You didn’t meet Dorothy & forget her.

I described Dorothy in her obituary as feisty, outspoken & slightly short on tact. My friend Susan commented that “the Lord had certainly welcomed one of his livelier ones home”. Truer words were never spoken. Dad & I were often horrified at things Dorothy said to people but one of her amazing gifts was her ability to make those people love her anyway. At her heart’s core, she was down to earth & accepting of all. When we were packing to come home for her service, I was fretting over what to wear & then I remembered rounding the corner in RB’s store (the local grocery) many years ago & seeing her standing there proudly surveying the produce in galoshes, my old sweatshirt & Dad’s camouflage hat from his Army days. I think she would be just fine with my jeans.

Dorothy’s career in healthcare is likely what she will be remembered for most. She was the best shot giver ever & could reassure the most anxious parent. I heard her answer many calls in the middle of the night from patients in need but I never once heard her complain. The trust people placed in her was incredible & it wasn’t uncommon for her to drag me out in the middle of the night because someone wanted her to see if their loved one was, in fact, dead. It was usually quite apparent that the person in question had expired & she would sit and console the widow until the proper officials arrived to help. Together with Dr. Kelley, she delivered over 800 babies and was often invited to family reunions of people she treated & delivered. Her patients truly adored her. Long after both doctors retired, those calls still came in the middle of the night.

Another of Dorothy’s accomplishments was raising not one but TWO perfect children. And if you ever spoke to her about me or my Dad, you know just how perfect we are. No one compared to us in her eyes. Well, at least until I married Chuck. Then I think he became her favorite. Actually we're sure he did. To say that she completely adored each of her great-grandchildren is barely touching on the love she felt for them. She never sweated the small stuff where they were concerned & they spent many hours pilfering her drawers and exploring her home to their heart’s content. When asked what they remembered most about her, they unanimously agreed “her spaghetti”. I am so thankful that she lived long enough to have a firm place in their memory.

Dorothy taught me many things in her life, including:

*Buy the best, it will save you in the long run.

*It’s ok to stick up for yourself when you feel you’ve been wronged, even if people don’t like you for doing it.

*In most instances, you really shouldn’t give a damn what others think.

*Never ever go out with a boy who honks when he comes to get you.

And the one I remembered the other night when I was getting dressed to attend the Holly Ball with my daughter………….Never underestimate the power of a good girdle.

In all my life, I’ve never known a person as generous as my grandma. She didn’t own one thing that she wouldn’t have given away if it would help someone in need. As I said in her obituary, we spent many holidays at her house, waiting to eat until she had first seen that the people in the local jail were well-fed. She never saw “color” in the world & raised both my dad & I to have no prejudice toward others different from us. She was fiercely protective of those she loved & always fought for the underdog. We won't discuss those she wasn't fond of!

Dorothy’s greatest legacy was, perhaps, that if she believed in you, she believed in you ‘til the end, no matter what path or poor choice you might have chosen. She never gave up on someone if they drank, went to prison, stole, faced addictions, etc. She had faith you would overcome & have the same good heart you always had. Dorothy embodied unconditional love.

She lived a very full life & I knew she was headed downhill when I went by to visit her and the police scanner had been turned off. I preferred to look at it as her retirement as “unofficial beat reporter” for Bernie’s Police & Fire Depts. She lived & breathed that scanner for many, many years & made a habit of calling the police to check on a prowler or the infamous “man standing on my front porch”, who was ALWAYS gone when they arrived. (Dad and I figure he’s about 118 by now.) In those later years, she just didn’t have the spunk we all knew she once had. In the end, though, she still knew who we were and died peacefully, as we had prayed she would. Two weeks before her death, my daughter was lucky enough to interview her for a school paper & she recalled memories & events from her childhood on with great clarity and detail. I’ll always be glad we made a quick trip home to do that & I know Ryder is too.

I hope when you remember Dorothy, you’ll think of the smile, the hearty laugh and the love she had for all of us. One thing is for certain, she left her mark & will never ever be forgotten.

There are so many people to thank and I know I’ll leave someone out but we would like to thank Greg Mathis for his help in leading us through this process, Holly & the girls at the restaurant who took her lunch for us, Brenda Caplinger for the love & care she gave Dorothy in her final years, Dorren Vancil & the staff of Gideon Care Center, the many friends who stopped by & checked on her and finally the Bernie Police Dept. - guys, the number of calls you receive just dropped drastically.

(Note about photo: While going through Dorothy's house, I came upon a couple thousand slides that she had taken in her lifetime. At first the photo above struck me because there aren't a lot of photos of my grandma "playing" with me & I thought, "how cool" but then the more I looked at it, I realized she was probably just wiping something off my face for a picture! Oh, well. I like it anyway.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Still Love Him

Early in our marriage, Chuck & I loved nothing more than taking in a good movie, both at the theater & on the couch. Remember those days? Those days before one of those movie nights led to a romp & a child and then another and another & pretty soon, you can't remember the last movie you saw that wasn't released by Pixar & featured the voice of Tom Hanks? Well, Chuck still likes a good movie now & then, but you know me, I'm up mopping the floor or doing laundry or making sure our bedsheets have perfect hospital corners. Or stressing over the budget. Or Facebooking. Or needlepointing while watching The Kardashians.

So the other night he rents The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington. As usual, he asks if I want to watch. And nothing against my dear husband, but after the illness that ran rampant through our house, I don't particularly want to be within 5 feet of any of these people, unless, of course, I'm doing what's on MY agenda. I try to convince him to watch tomorrow and come to bed but NOOOO. Apparently Denzel has something I don't. So I retreat to our room. Alone. To read magazines and listen to Gary Allan on my iPod. I even make a couple last minute attempts to text him --- "R u surrre you don't want to come to bed?" I even paraphrased a Gary Allan song & said, "I'm wearing nothin' but an iPod and a smile...." But DAMN, that boy loves a good Denzel flick. Suffice it to say, I should have just watched the movie. And this, in a roundabout way, is why.

When I was very young, my grandma worked as a nurse for the town doctor. He was a doctor from the days of old, where it cost $10 for a shot and if he had samples of medicine on hand, he just gave them to you. He LOVED the show M*A*S*H & loved to talk about it the morning after it aired. My grandma gave me a piece of good advice that, had I remembered the other night, I would have taken. She said, "Oh, Lord, honey, when he asks if you've seen M*A*S*H, say yes if you don't want to hear all about it!" I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED. Or at least applied the advice later in life.

Have you heard my husband tell a story? I love him more than life but his voice inflection NEVER changes. This is surprising actually, because in high school, he was in both the junior & senior plays & even won the Drama Award for his brilliant portrayal of hillbilly, Patoukah Lindsey. He can be "get-down-on-the-floor-hold-your-stomach-and-roll" funny. Except when he's telling you about a show he's seen. And then Ben Stein's got nothin' on him. "Bueller?? Bueller??"

He started by telling me I should have stayed up & watched it & right there I missed my chance to say, "You know what? I have seen that! I was confused." So he starts at the beginning. He doesn't describe the opening credits & soundtrack but only because it must have slipped his mind. Apparently this movie is about a man, a Bible & a journey, in a nutshell. An endless journey.... At one point, I wanted to raise my finger in the air & say, "Excuse me, but how old is Denzel at the end of this journey? Does he still have his hearing? Is he suffering from ED yet?" It goes on & on and I suddenly feel like I'm stuck at the 1988 Democratic Convention having to endure Bill Clinton's nominating speech for Michael Dukakis. Normally, my friends will tell you I have an uncanny ability to wait --- for a table, in line for flu shots for two freaking hours, for a delayed flight, for a child I'm photographing to co-operate (unless it's mine).....really anything. My college roommate even once said, "You're so patient at stoplights." Waiting usually does not get to me. Unless I'm having to endure hearing someone talk & act like I'm interested. Then the self-centeredness in me takes over and I start to seize. Ok, not quite but uuugggh! He's still going.........Denzel kills a gang of bikers and then they fall through a trap door and run out of fuel and somehow wind up in San Francisco at Alcatraz & no matter how many times I say, "How did it END?" he just keeps going. I realize that if had made a game of it & taken a drink of beer each time he uttered the word "Denzel" I would be passed out & no longer care. But it was over breakfast & I was having MILK.

I DID SURVIVE. And I think Denzel did too but I honestly can't remember. I just know that last night I came in from taking 4 boys (age 8-11) to see Jeff Kinney, of Diary of a Wimpy Kid fame & I walked in and plopped down on the loveseat with Chuck & a preview came on tv for a NEW movie starring Denzel Washington & I almost bolted out the door, drove back downtown & got back in line to see Jeff Kinney with 500 other kids.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Halloween HELL

Halloween was for us, the start of a week of HELL. Now don't go preaching to me or trying to get me to put things in perspective with tales of death & terminal diagnosis & mass foreclosures. YOU WEREN'T HERE. It was bad.

The ball got rolling the night before Halloween when Chuck and I went to our neighborhood block party. I was in a good mood, fresh off of 2 hours of gazing at Gary Allan in concert the previous night & we threw caution to the wind & decided to do something the boys have begged us to do for years --- dress up. I was a chick from the late 60's/early 70's (no one could agree) & after ditching the hippie wig I bought him, Chuck went as Francisco, the Chilean Miner. The night was fun. Until we got home & Chuck decided he had been run over by a train and oh, God, the misery and the inability to EVEN TALK because his throat hurt so bad and an earache and please LORD, don't let this be the Apalachicola nightmare all over again....And for Christ's sake, honey, you do realize you WEREN'T actually in the mine for 69 days, right? So on Monday I forced him to the doctor and he was treated for strep. Although painful, that's what you want, right? Because even though, yes, there are deadly strains, generally a couple doses of Amoxicillin and you're back among the living. Quick. Easy. Get on with your life. NEVER at the Buttry home. And I say that because early Monday morning at oh, say 2:30, Chuck yells to me on the sofa, where I have taken refuge from his giant nasal cavity & says, "Wyatt threw up in the bathroom." Sure enough. Never IN the toilet. Ever. Lots of Lysol, 409, bleach and a roll or two of paper towels later, that's cleaned up & he's back in bed. (Not Chuck - he never LEFT the bed.) My hopes of the cause being too much Halloween candy are dashed when he gets up and is sick a few more times in the night. No school for him. 24 hours and he'll be fine, right? NEVER at the Buttry home. He spikes a fever, cries that his eyes are hurting and running and that his throat hurts too. Strep test - POSITIVE. But that's easy, cause all he needs is Amoxicillin, right? Apparently so. In a day we were able to pronounce him cured. AAAhhhhh, so glad things are back to normal. But that nighttime cough Brooks is exhibiting is making me a little scared to let my guard down.

With good reason, OF COURSE. Because by the next morning, he sounds like a stranded seal & his eyes are swollen to near slits. Back to the doctor - strep test POSITIVE. He stays home and luckily he and his sister are out of school Thursday and Friday for teacher meetings. We can all rest and GET WELL, RIGHT? Wyatt goes back on Thursday, as he goes to private school & they aren't out like public. About 3:00 p.m., as I'm leaving the carpool at Wyatt's school, I get a call from Ryder, our daughter, who is watching Brooks. "WHERE ARE YOU? DAD'S PUKING!!!!" Confused, I'm all like, "Honey, Dad's in Hot Springs at the AEF convention." She responds with, "UH, right now he's in the bathroom really sick and I'm taking Brooks and heading for Baker Park!" Now since his claim to fame in college was that he once threw up on the CEILING and could wake neighbors two houses down, all that is going through my mind is "Fuck my life. This is unreal. What in God's name have I done to deserve this???" Sorry, I apologize (not really) but that's what went through my mind. I tend to his needs, God help me and think, "Well, tonight the kids and I are going to a fundraiser at Panera Bread so we'll leave him to get this out of his system and I'll go have a nice chicken salad sandwich!" So eventually Ryder, her poor friend, Lizzie, who can now be added to the 'list of people traumatized by hearing Chuck puke' (which is growing mighty long, I might add), and Brooks return from the park and I head for the bank, my last necessary errand, 'cause we all know I have great luck when I go to the bank drive-thru, right? I start the car, shut the door and Brooks RUNS out to the car and says, "I think I'm gonna be sick." And all I could say was, "You have GOT to be shitting me. Head for the bathroom." And somewhere at that point I think I cried, I know I yelled & I'm pretty sure I prayed. And do not lecture me about the order of those three. YOU WEREN'T HERE.

We didn't go to Panera Bread. I never even ate dinner that night because when you all but have a target on your head that you're next in the execution line, why waste good bread, right? Ryder got the hell out of Dodge and left with her friend and honestly, we saw her less than 15 minutes total between Thursday and Sunday. And I didn't blame her in the least. I just said, "Have a good time, check in with a text now and then & call if you need money funneled to you", which she did. Basically the same thing her dad tells me when I go shopping in Dallas.

My house stunk, my kids were cranky, I was a total neurotic bitch and my husband was all of the above PLUS dramatic because if you think there ain't no dramatic person like a sick man, I give you a man who was the only son in his family & had a mom who doted on him. SHOOT ME NOW. Oh, and there was Ryder's suffering too - "I'm at the mall!" "We're at Fantastic China!" "I got the cutest earrings!" "Is Dad still pukin'?" "Did he get paid?" "We're at Buffalo Wild Wings and oh, I'm spending the night at Skylar's! See ya'!" Oh, to be a teen again. I adore her. She is me at 15. Except I was dating her dad by then.

So far, so good. The women in the family have proven their strength & I know I'm going to wish I hadn't said that, as far as karma goes. The men in the family are better but please tell me I've paid for whatever I did for a long, long time. Please.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bank Drive-Thrus - The Perfect Place To Needlepoint!

At least if you bank in Little Rock. Good Lord, people. Seriously. I may never drive through a bank again. In fact, I may start stowing all my money in a boot box underneath our bed. (Before you hatch a plan to break in, know that my balance is currently $89.43 & that's hardly worth a prison term & Chuck injuring you with a bat.) But apparently, folks, I was not meant to USE DRIVE-THRU SERVICES. EVER.

A couple weeks ago I pulled up to the bank to withdraw some cash from Chuck's account so he could finance my leisurely lunch with a girlfriend while he sat on a 4-hour conference call bored out of his mind, eating a Budget Gourmet. After all, that's why he works. Should have been quick. Minute or two MAX. I sat there. And sat there. And played with my phone (What did we used to do? Oh, right, organize our cassette carrying cases!) Finally, I said, "Is there a problem????" My mind immediately went back to the day our bank encoded the first four digits of our account #, instead of the check amount and our account was overdrawn $5000. I remember calling Chuck, saying "Do you have a girlfriend & what on EARTH did you buy her?" I digress. Anyway, that little experience has never left me and reasserts itself from time to time when the teller is taking forever, like today, and talking furiously with her co-workers and they're all coming over to help her as though she's a doctor who just spotted an extra kidney on my x-ray. "Well, sort of," she says. "'Da pen 'sploded in da tube and I'm trying to clean it up. It's all OVER da place!!! Specially your license!" So after an attempt to clean up my driver's license and get me the cash, she returns it (still completely covered in ink, so much so, that I could pass myself off for Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, should the need to do that ever arise) and I head for my lunch date. No big deal. Payback for the time I got all the way to Target and realized I had brought the bank's drive-thru tube with me..... That was experience #1.

Experience #2 happened Thursday night when I went to make a deposit in Chuck's account. Yes, Chuck is smart enough to have an account that I can't access easily, which is why we have a house and cars and a kid in private school. Otherwise, we'd just have a lot of cool shit ordered off the internet and we'd eat vienna sausages nightly. (The problem that the non-joint account presents will be evident later in this diatribe.) I pull up to the lane and there are three lanes, all with the bright green OPEN sign. So, since there are three cars each at two of them, I pull up to the third, which is empty. My first clue should have been the man in the pick-up truck in lane #1, who had completely shut his engine off. People, if you need to shut your engine off for a transaction, walk your ass inside and take care of things, please. It's one of Noelle's rules of life & you should OBEY. The first teller is completely occupied depositing this man's stack of checks that go back to July, at least. In lane #2, we have a woman, very made up and giving the impression of wealth but also projecting major unhappiness. At first, I'm not sure if it's with the teller or life in general but after many exchanges back and forth (that I can hear because I have rolled my window down in order to do so), I discern that perhaps her spouse has cut her off from all accounts. This is not going to be settled in a drive-thru & likely not for months in a court of law, but I feel like giving her the name of an attorney friend and asking her to get the hell out of the line. I finally get my turn and by now, let me say that I have listened to the first FIVE songs on Gary Allan's "Get Off On The Pain" CD. The irony of the title is not lost on me. I send my check through and NO KIDDING, I listen to THREE more songs before the teller comes on and says, "Do you know this Ryder Buttry, whose check you're depositing?" I explain that she's my daughter, under 18 and I cash her checks often. He eyes me suspiciously & tells me I have to sign her name under mine and he'll do it. Tube comes, I sign and after TWO more songs later (10 total, if you're keeping count), I get my receipt and head back home where my husband is waiting, having made it back from Memphis, TN before I made it back from a bank 7 blocks away. (Granted he had a head start.)

Experience #3 presented itself last night. Unless you're the type of person sitting home watching your dvd's of "The Dukes of Hazzard-Season 1", you probably know that Little Rock's new Anthropologie store opened yesterday. I had made plans to be there when the doors opened & meet up, once again, with my new friend, Megan. Time was of the essence! If I didn't get there at 10:00, SOMETHING might be out of stock by the time I arrived & I would have to live knowing that I didn't see EVERYTHING in that store. But first I needed cash because in addition to the need for Anthropologie stuff, I was almost completely out of gas. No problem. There's an Arvest on the way. That will be quick. What was I thinking? I pull up to the drive thru & put my money in the tube, along with a check & send it through. And I wait. Seems the account I'm withdrawing from is the one that Chuck has had the tuition, house and car payment withdrawn from so there's not much left in it. I need to access the other one because that's where the money is. Except it's the one that only has his name on it, which has never been a problem because we just transfer from it online and it doesn't know me from him, thank God. UNTIL NOW. Soooo, I tell the lady I'll be back and I drive across the street to the Shell station and gas up my truck with Chuck's credit card (because that's why he works, remember?), all the while accessing the Arvest app on my iPhone to transfer money. Back to the bank, I go. Except now they're busy, no doubt because Anthropologie is opening in TEN minutes and everyone is withdrawing cash. So I pick the one lane open, which is NOT the lane I had before. And this lane has one of those pneumatic tube systems, like our grocery store pharmacy, where you don't exactly put your stuff in a tube but in this open space and it closes and sucks it into the bank lobby. Or in my case, into oblivion. The teller comes over the speaker and says, "Maam, did you send it?" "Yes," I reply. "Are you SURE?" she says. "Positive, ma'am. The tube is closed & it made a giant sucking noise." The only reply I get is an "Ohhh." Then multiple tellers congregate around her tube like those people who congregate around the televisions in Wal-Mart when something big happens on the news. None of them appear to have a grasp on the situation.

Another lady comes over the speaker and says, "We're sorry, ma'am but your check and driver's license are somewhere up there," and she gestures toward the ceiling of the drive-thru lane & has a hopeful look in her eye like I might just say, "dag nabbit" and drive away peacefully. "Well," I say, "Someone's going to need to coax it down, I guess, because I need both cash & my license. And NOW I can't go to another bank branch because I don't have my license." And I wanted to add, "And do you realize Anthropologie opens in THREE minutes????" I sit and sit and finally do my needlepoint that I grab every time I leave the house just for situations like this. (I wasn't a boy Scout but my dad was an Eagle Scout so I guess the predisposition to "be prepared" passed to me genetically.) No amount of button pushing or tapping on the large receiving tube or negotiating with the rogue driver's license seems to be working so she asks me to come inside and she'll cash my check, "Even though you don't have your license". Really??? I DON'T HAVE IT BECAUSE IT'S STUCK IN THE INTRICATE PNEUMATIC TUBE SYSTEM OF YOUR LOVELY, ARCHITECTURALLY-ATTRACTIVE BANK BRANCH!

So, I go inside, get my cash and leave for Anthropologie, which is now OPEN, people. RIGHT? WRONG! I tell her I transferred $800, via phone app, to the account I was withdrawing from and she says "No. The balance is still the same." I ask if iPhone transfers are automatic. "Yes," she says. I even bring up the transaction on my iPhone and show her and she thinks I didn't hit "submit" the final time, which is entirely possible, as I was also pumping gas at the time. "Let's just call your husband and get him to ok it over the phone," the teller says. At this point, I'm getting a little irritated, partly because Anthropologie is now open & Megan is buying everything in the store before I can get there & partly because the teller is named Persiffany & I'm thinking that can't be good in this situation. Or in any situation. Also, I'm thinking that Chuck may not take kindly to being interrupted in his meeting so that I can SHOP. But the situation is dire so I call. And he doesn't answer. And I text, and he doesn't respond. And I look at Persiffany & she knows this is the final look Ted Kaczynski had in his eye before he headed for the post office the last time.

So she calls in another teller, who appears to be a management level higher and is very apologetic and says, "Why don't I just take the money out of the other account and your husband can call me today & authorize the transfer & there won't be any fees?" Voila! But wait a minute......without my license, I have to drive the speed limit & obey traffic laws & I can't write any checks from my account that has only $90 in it & I'll be up shit creek if I'm carded trying to buy some Pabst Blue Ribbon, which I now NEED, after all this? What if I need an emergency MRI? I.D. REQUIRED, ma'am! "Oh, yeah," the teller says, "we'll have to call someone in to retrieve your license and we'll call you when it's done." I really have no other option, other than offering to crawl up in the tube and wind up like that kid who got stuck in the toy claw machine, so I head to Anthropologie, CAREFULLY obeying the speed limit & not running any red lights, though I'm tempted, because, you know, Megan is buying IT ALL.

At 3:00, as I was headed to pick up my son at school, the teller calls and says my ID has been talked down and will be waiting at their branch for me. I now have it back & made it through the day, not only without getting any speeding tickets, but also just in time to stop at the liquor store for some Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Move Over, Kathy Smith!

Actually, I think Kathy Smith DID move over and Jillian Michaels swooped in for the kill. But not in a bad way. She rocks and I'd kill for that body she has. Unfortunately, I'm lacking the fortitude to do exactly what she says, so... I've compromised. And it worked. Or seems to be working. I don't have her body by any means, but I AM losing weight.

A month or two before school dismissed for summer, I decided that, by God, I would sport a two-piece before summer's end. So, after seeing a photo of myself that someone else had taken & been kind enough to tag me with on Facebook, I stared in disbelief & made a conscious effort to change my lifestyle. My goal in the beginning was to lose 38 pounds. Lots of people said, "You don't need to lose THIRTY-EIGHT pounds!" But those people hadn't seen my naked ass exit the shower in the morning. Chuck & I decided to have a contest & see who could lose the most by opening day of the pool. I won. And here's how, after many, many requests from people who have noticed my thinner self, I accomplished what is, to date, my 24-pound weight loss. I'm not quite to my 38-pound goal yet, but I did end the summer soaking up the rays in not one but two different bikinis. Now I only have 14 lbs. to go! And my ass looks better than Chuck's exiting the shower.

My weight loss has taken place between April & September, by the way. That comes out to a pound a week. And I hope you didn't come here expecting an easy gimmick or a potion I drank or that I had some form of liposuction. In my opinion, there is ONE way to lose weight - eat less, eat healthier & increase your physical activity. Here's the plan that's worked for me:

1. EXERCISE: As baseball player John Kruk once famously said, "I ain't an athlete, lady. I play baseball." Well, I'm not an athlete either (though I do love baseball!) but I did get off my rear. My favorite physical activities are exercising my fingers with needlepoint projects & lifting a camera. But I initially joined a small gym and began running a mile on the treadmill a few times a week and doing the circuit of weight machines they had. I also walked some at night with a couple girlfriends. Eventually, I realized I could run outside and it was more enjoyable for me. I could lift free weights at home, which I had actually done before in a college class & thoroughly enjoyed. So, now I have abandoned the gym and I run in my neighborhood (still only a few miles a week) and do exercises at home with a weight bar and an 8 lb. toning ball. You don't have to become a 5K or marathon runner to lose weight & you can even walk if you prefer. BUT YOU HAVE TO DO IT. And KEEP doing it.

2. FOOD: I despise diet plans that tell you that you can eat what you want and still lose weight. Yes, you can still enjoy your favorite meals and snacks occasionally, but you HAVE to change the way you are eating in order to drop pounds. It's that simple. It was especially hard for me because, like my daughter now, I had always been able to eat whatever I wanted & gain nothing. That was, until I had my third child. I always saw large people & said, "Did they not see that coming?? I would NOTICE I was getting fat and put an end to that!" Then one day my husband's grandmother was kind enough to point out how "I was really a puttin' it on" & I took notice. I changed my eating habits in the following ways:

a) I decreased my daily donut intake - I would eat an average of 1-2 a day for breakfast. Now I might have a couple a week. Unless I'm in Dexter, MO near Faye's Bakery & then all bets are off. Thankfully, I'm not there too often.

b) I decreased my daily Coke intake - I went from drinking it constantly throughout the day & late into the night to having 1-2 a day (my goal is to stop eventually) & replacing the other ones with water and juice and the occasional French Berry Lemonade from Fresh Market (yummmm).

c) I decreased my butter consumption - Butter was my cocaine. My Jack Daniel's. My vice & comfort food. Feeling down? Bake a pan of rolls! Why not? I had to have it with almost everything I ate and if the meal didn't call for butter, I would add bread so that I had a reason to eat butter. (I used to eat it out of the tub as a child.) I can't do that anymore. I still eat some, but not as often and I sometimes replace it with olive oil. And this one is really, really hard for me.

d) I began skipping appetizers, pre-meal salads and cut back on bread.

e) I completely stopped late night snacking. This was a HUGE weakness for me as I would sit up late editing photos and trying to stay awake, all the while having one hand in a bag of yellow Lay's and a Coke in the other. Or a Snickers bar. Or in my worst, darkest days, a couple of candy bars. It's really a wonder I was not HUGE. And it's not surprising that my keyboard was a mess.

f) When I cook now, I change ingredients to low or no-fat when possible. I also STOP EATING WHEN I'M FULL. This is one of the biggest ones for me. You do NOT have to clean that plate, people. If you're hungry later, have a few carrot sticks or a handful of nuts.

g) My snacks have changed drastically from greasy chips, 3 Musketeers, Snickers, Pringles, donuts, cupcakes, M & M's, etc. My snacks are now almonds/pecans, fruit, olives, apple slices (not dipped in anything), low-fat crackers, chips/salsa (in moderation). It's not as fun, but I don't want to be fat. Simple as that. Jillian Michael's book "Making The Cut" is a great resource for snack ideas based on your metabolic type.

h) A few other lifestyle changes: I rarely eat fast food now. And if I have a burger, well, then, no fries. I park as far out as possible and get in a few extra steps of exercise when I'm shopping. If I think I'm hungry for a snack, I'll wait 15 minutes. Often I forget what I wanted & never even have one. And, I don't drink alcohol. Maybe two drinks a year if I'm on vacation. That's it.

i) At the risk of not disclosing everything, my final words are that I take 10mg of Prozac daily to deal with life in general and it seems to curb my appetite a bit. I think it's only fair that I mention that. Some people say it has the opposite effect. Guess I'm lucky. I also had a hysterectomy in June (still have ovaries) & it's been the best thing I've ever done. No more monthly bloating and soooo much more energy. I didn't do it to lose weight, obviously, but I think it's played a small part.

j) I take no drugs or supplements or anything from health food stores or the EZ Mart counter. No Hydroxycut or ANYTHING like that. And you shouldn't either.

Once I lost several pounds, I was really motivated to keep going. Seeing photos of my thinner self were really encouraging too. If you need to find weight bar/ball exercises, just use Google or check out Jillian's books. Or buy a simple book on weight training. Magazines like SHAPE & Women's Health feature exercises monthly. Resources are endless. Start slow. Progress steadily. Don't give up. But get off your ass. No one ever lost weight cramming food in their mouth while lounging on the couch watching Desperate Housewives re-runs.