Wednesday, October 5, 2011

They Don't Make An Effective Sleep Aid for People Like Me

     OMG.  There are no words.  Well, hopefully there ARE words since I got my comfy ass out of bed to write this post.  And there are no photos to accompany it or I would meet an early death.

     My dear, sweet, kind husband & I have been married 18 years.  Eighteen years of listening to him snore.  I don't do snoring well.  Last week, however, I learned that there can be a good side to snoring.  More than a couple people my age in the last few years, in this very city, have awakened to find their spouse not only not snoring, but not breathing.  At all.  They lost their spouses in their 30's and 40's, for various reasons, as they lay sleeping next to them.  That is horrifying to me.  And last week, one night, I awoke in the night & heard nothing.  No breathing.  No movement.  No snoring.  So I did what any wife in her right mind would do at 3 a.m:  I shook him violently & said, "Honey, are you alive???"  He was.  And there was definitely movement & noise, ranging from, "Is someone sick?" to "What the hell?" to "If you woke me up to kill a damn bug, just find a shoe..."  to "What the HELL time is it?"  Now my husband is in fairly good shape (you could still benefit from the gym, honey - not gonna lie) and lives a pretty low-stress existence, as existences go.  But with a not-so-good cardiac family history, I like to hear a little noise or sense a little movement beside me at night.  BUT NOT AS MUCH AS I'M HEARING TONIGHT.  I get it.  You're alive!  The neighbors don't need to know you're alive - just ME!  In fact, the neighbors are pissed because they think someone's trying to fire up their "STIHL"chainsaw at 1:00 a.m.!  And can't get it going.....
     I have a past with snoring, believe me.  My mother doesn't snore so much as she breathes louder than a freight train passing through, but with a slightly sinister tone.  It's very reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter when he says, "Well, Clarice.  Have the lambs stopped screaming?"  And my mom has expressed many times, her frustration with me coming in her room & yelling, "Stop breathing!" It's loud, people.  Un-believably loud.  When she & my dad were married, it's a wonder they EVER got a night's sleep because the noises that are emitted not only from her but from my dad, in a state of slumber, are indescribable.  And he knows this.  I once, in the tiny town of Carrollton, MO, at a lovely little motel called E.C.'s (It was the wedding hotel, people - I had to stay there.),  whacked my dad violently enough times with my pillow that he slept the remainder of the evening in his car, in the parking lot.  There are plusses to driving Lincoln Town Cars, especially a circa 1992 model & especially if you're over 6 ft. tall.  He'll be the first to tell you.  Any night since then that I have been subject to his nocturnal symphony, I have been gently reminded by him to have those putty-like ear plugs, that block out every possible noise except Fran Drescher whining, at the ready.  Generally, I just make reservations one town over & the problem is solved.  Because I know it'll be me in that damn car.

     But Chuck....Chuck..... that's who we're talking about here.  This is the man I promised to live with for better or worse, in sickness & in health, for richer for poorer, snoring or non-snoring, 'til death do us part.  And somewhere there's a clause in there that says "death may not do you part by holding a pillow over his face 'til all noise stops."  I'll be the first to admit I don't excel at all of these vows.  I try, people.  I try.  That's what I plan to tell God & what I'm telling you.  But I do not always succeed.  Generally, when Chuck has a night of snoring, my plan of action progresses as follows:

     1) I gently roll over & say, "Honey, you're snoring again.  Can you stop?"  Very low success rate.

     2) I put my arm around him, shake him lightly, grit my teeth and say, "For the love of God, STOP!
         (That's not nearly as hateful as it looks in all-caps.)  Usually met with a startled "What????" & 
         a very brief pause in the pattern of snoring.

    3)  No warning.  Just a very bitchy "STOP with the snoring!  I can't sleep!  PLEASE!"
         (Occasionally an expletive or two at this point. Don't judge til you've slept with him.  And please
         don't sleep with him. ;-) Sometimes this provides enough relief for me to get back to sleep 
         & tune him out, at least for a while.  But sometimes, it requires bringing in the big gun.

    4)  The last resort:  I roll over, embrace him, raise one hand to his neck, act like I'm going to
         commit the most violent of acts toward someone I love,  & using my hand as a knife blade,
         I summon my best, sinister Night Stalker voice & say, "If you make any noise at all sir, you will
         not live to see the sun come up.  Got it?"  This works like a charm. Desperate times call for 
         desperate measures.  

        I won't sleep on the couch because barring the lion noises beside me, I do like snuggling up to him.  I have considered trying those little plastic "Breathe-Right Nasal Strips" but I think a more efficient & cheaper method for us, at least over the long term, would be to get both his nostrils pierced & using fishing wire, hold the nostrils open by tying them to hooks on opposite walls of our room.  It's not forbidden in the vows; word for word, anyway.  But, hey, I'm open to suggestions.  And I'm headed back to try options 1- 4 or knock myself out with meds so I don't hear him.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Really, (insert name of child's baseball league)?? Really??

I know the following sentence comes out of my mouth often.  “I can’t let this one go without commenting.”  But let’s face it, that’s why some of you love me.  It’s also why some of you don’t.  But the great thing about the written word is that if you don’t like what’s written, you can stop reading at any time.  Permission granted. :-)
This morning, I received an e-mail with a link to the following article:   By the end of the article, I was nearly on the floor laughing. I find the e-mailing of this link suspect & comical, first, because it appeared in the in-boxes of the members of my child’s baseball organization immediately following the departure of at least a few great little baseball players to a “travel team”, for very good reason & not at all because their parents think they’re “above” playing at my child’s ballpark.  Perhaps, a coincidence...  Secondly, so many of the points made in this article, condemning “travel” and “elite” baseball, perfectly describe the culture & atmosphere at my child’s baseball organization, which doesn’t fall in either the “travel” or “elite” category. Or does it?
Let me preface this by saying that it was not our intention, after we lost a wonderful coach, to return to this ballpark.  I even went so far as to tell the governing board of this organization that we would not return.  But after talking to friends & investigating our choices,  Chuck & I decided it was our only option. Since it’s about the interest of our child & that of our two other non baseball-playing children and not US, we decided if he was happy here, we could suck it up & endure.  Our research proved that youth baseball across the board is pretty competitive & dirty, no pun intended. We might as well play at the organization close to home that doesn’t require travel (and the expense of travel) & where he could be with his friends, right?   He loves his teammates, after all. And who knows if he would have made a travel team?  On to the article….
By the third paragraph of this article, the writer, Tim Keown is condemning what he calls “elite” baseball organizations for having “tryouts”, a word used to condemn at least seven times throughout the article.  At one point Mr. Keown goes as far as to say, & I quote directly,

“Is there anything dumber than holding tryouts for 9 year-olds?”

  Seriously, (insert name of my son’s baseball organization)???  Nine years of age is the point at which YOU, our organization, begins tryouts! The author goes on to say,

 “We’re not talking about Little League tryouts, which don’t include cuts and are intended to place kids at the appropriate level for their ability. No, we’re talking about putting 9-10 year olds through an extensive tryout to keep some and cut others.” 

Some will argue that our organization’s practices follow the first part of that quote, but they don’t.  Not exactly.  I know what the author refers to here because my older son’s middle school has “evaluations” for football and basketball, also often referred to as tryouts,  where the kids are evaluated & split according to ability, into different teams (basketball) & strings (football).  There are no cuts made until, I believe, 7th grade.  Definitely not in 5th & 6th  grades.  But at my son’s baseball organization, coaches from the 9 year-old league, begin scouting, yes, SCOUTING in the spring of each year down on the 7-8 year-old field to see who would be good for their teams when the draft rolls around.  Yep, the DRAFT.  And what of the kids who try out (the organization’s language, not mine) in the spring & are not drafted?  They’re given the option to play on the “rec league” team for those who are not as serious about baseball.  If that isn’t a cut, what is it?  I personally know of kids who have taken that cut hard.  There is an unspoken train of thought at our ballpark, that if your kid is playing “rec league” they either weren’t “good enough” to make the other league OR their parents “just wanted them to have fun” (certainly NOT a bad thing).  It is definitely implied that if you try out to play in the league my son is in, you are “serious” about baseball.  Critics will argue that there is no “stigma” associated with playing in “rec league” but they will be wrong.  And it’s a damn shame because the man who leads that rec league organization is a friend of mine and a good guy all around.  I would have been proud to have my son play for him & as my husband heard someone say once, “Have you ever noticed the kids and parents in that league are smiling?” There's a reason.
Contrast that with my child’s league where many parents are fretting about the standings, making All-Stars, or whether their child is playing as often as they think they should & at the position they think they should.  I haven’t been above being angry that my child’s team has basically, under new coaching staff, been turned into a “rec league” team, while other teams continue competitive practices, such as requiring incoming draftees to play fall ball for the experience & adjustment to live pitch over pitching machine.  Somehow, my husband, who is a baseball fan but has no experience at all playing, is my son's pitching coach?  Maybe it won’t hurt our team & maybe it will.  But I certainly hope the parents who support this switch are rewarded with a winning season.  Last year, they were the ones muttering “we need a win” when we got off to a rough start & telling our boys, “we can still win the championship” when we were about mid-season. I’m pretty competitive myself because every one likes to see their kid win.  But I certainly wouldn’t pretend NOT to be when clearly I am & by sending this article, our league does just that. It’s blatant hypocrisy on many levels.  I don’t think my son’s baseball league can condemn “elite” and “travel ball” parents for being in it for themselves.  Our league (note I said our league & not our TEAM) has it’s share of overly competitive parents too,  even some who force their kids to play when they would much rather be doing something else & leave the ballpark berating them, which Mr. Keown’s article bashes & rightfully so. However, it also has kids who have an intense love of baseball & above-average ability, who, like our son, do want to play “competitive baseball at the next level”, a phrase also demonized in this article.  Some have their kids training at a local fitness facility & hire hitting coaches & pitching coaches.  That's a sign of taking it seriously, also criticized by Mr. Keown.  Some are taking those lessons because Dad wants them to & some do it because the kid wants to.  It isn't my place or the author's to judge either.   I just know my son is happiest on that dirty mound & the day he decides he isn’t, we won’t sign him up. (As evidence of that, our older son only played one season because it clearly wasn’t his “thing”.)  But when Mr. Keown asks “what is the next level?”, I would argue that my son’s organization promotes the same principle by what they call “playing up”.  This kid’s too good for single A so we’ll play him up on AA or AAA.  Or better yet, a parent who says, “My kid needs to play up.”  What is the difference, please tell me?
   I have two final criticisms, or ironies, if you will,  of receiving this column from someone at my child’s ballpark.  Mr. Keown rails on the “elite organizations” building big complexes to showcase their teams but in the past year, my husband and I have attended a fundraiser where board members spoke of and sent follow-up e-mails telling of the opportunity for corporate sponsorships & personal donations so we can improve the ballpark and host more tournaments – the very act of which this column CONDEMNS. If we’re truly in this to “have fun” and let the kids play ball, a field carved out of a corn field should work, shouldn’t it?  Finally, the author criticizes the seriousness & control of “travel ball” teams yet my son’s organization makes it clear that unless you are dedicated to ALL the practices and tournaments of All-Star season, you might as well check, “Don’t consider my child for All-Star play” or plan to move your summer activities & vacations to accommodate the team.  That doesn’t reek of “all in fun” if you ask me.  And I’m not criticizing it, just pointing out another contradiction.  One of our most fun experiences WAS the year our son played All-Star baseball.
It isn’t that I have an issue with ALL of the points made in this column.  And I do believe the majority of parents/kids at my child’s ballpark are in it for the right reasons. And they are our friends. Or I should word that to say we do still have some friends there.  The point is that I consider it hilarious that my child’s league thought it would be a good idea to send this out.  And if you disagree, look at the column’s accompanying cartoon & tell me we couldn’t substitute our organization’s name for “Elite League” in the photo.  Can’t you envision some of our parents holding those exact signs?  It’s possible that it’s sour grapes for losing some good players to these “elite” organizations.  It may just be that it’s the goal of our organization to change the principles it has either directly or indirectly condoned in the past.  Or it may be that the sender of this e-mail, relatively new to this organization truly believes an atmosphere of fun would be an improvement.  If these things are true, lots of things are going to have to change.  And if that’s true, in all honesty, there is no reason to have a separate league for those who don’t “make tryouts.”  It really doesn’t matter to me which category we fall into, competitive or recreational,  but seriously, which is it?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Am I Packing? No. Am I blogging? Yes. Again, with the distraction issues!

For seven days, this will be the view off my bedroom. If you look hard, you can see the ocean across the street. But if you're sitting in one of these chairs in the early morning hours, you can take a deep breath & drink in the gulf air. And that my friends, is the best medicine I know of, no matter what ails you.
Why I'm blogging & not doing laundry, packing or, OF COURSE, helping look for the iPod Touch that Brooks suddenly cannot find ANYWHERE, is beyond me. I have my swimwear packed. And my medication. So if we could just find the iPod, all would be right with our world. My list of things to do this vacation includes the following:

*Meet up with friends, also staying nearby.

*Buy something to eat at Cowgirl Kitchen in Rosemary Beach

*Try for another great family photo in Alys Beach

*Visit Sundog Books & have our traditional "on-the-way-out-of-town" breakfast in Seaside at Great Southern

*Ride bikes all over

*Take many, many walks with Chuck

*Visit the Blue Giraffe art gallery

*Get breakfast at Thomas' donuts in Panama City Beach

*Go to Funland for delicious, cheap eats & arcade games. And ice cream.

*Keep anyone in the family from getting even slightly dizzy or off-balance

*Play Goofy Golf with Papa Norm

*Skip the water park, skip the pontoon, skip parasailing & stay closer to 30-A most days

*Hang at the beach and the pool.

*Worry about nothing. (Except keeping people from getting even slightly dizzy or off-balance.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Funny How Things Change.....Yet Stay Much The Same

This may have been nearer 3rd grade but no matter when it was taken, tell me you had a cooler SATIN roller derby jacket & I'll KNOW you are lying. I swear I was a happy child. You just can't tell. And if you could see my ass in this photo, the jean pockets matched the jacket. Brooks would say, "DUDE, that is BOSS!"

I found many a treasure when I helped go through the things in my grandma's home last year, right before we sold it. The other day, I was going through one of the boxes I brought back & many of the things that I just had to keep back in December seemed much less important when taken out of the box the second time around. Like my paisley underwear & a cast iron cow. But there were several things that I kept, one of them being my "Book About Me" that I filled out in 2nd grade. It was fun to look back & remember the person I was then. And it was also funny to see that some things never change. Some do. I'm no longer in love with Bryan Bates. I'm no longer "best friends" with Stephanie Smee, but we've reconnected through Facebook & we are good friends again. (One of my favorite things about Facebook, finding people I never would have found.) And I thought I would share with you a glimpse of the girl I was then. There are similarities galore.

I am 8 (7 1/2). (Now just multiply x5.)

My hair is brunette.

My eyes are blue.

My name backwards is Elleon. (I found this to be much cooler than I should have. Nerd.)

My special magic word is hocus-pocus. (You have no idea the magic that word has brought to my life ;-) It's so much more "boss" than abracadabra, no matter how much you love The Steve Miller Band.)

I wish I had a flying balloon to ride. (I actually had an appointment to fly in one over Steamboat Springs, CO & it was cancelled due to weather. Some dreams were meant to die :-( )

I would fly to Timbuktu. (Timbuktu was fascinating to me then. I remember wondering all the time if it existed. And I may have driven my dad crazy talking about it. It fascinated me more than Santa. I never said I wasn't weird.)

I would fly to Greece, Germany & Holland. (Amazingly, along with Slovakia & Sweden, those are still my three picks.)

Words I know in a different language are loco, quatro, uno. (Of course I knew loco!)

I do not like to be tickled at all except on my neck. (A rather odd question for a memory book, don't you think? I cannot believe I didn't mention my awesome cousin, Randy, who could tickle you 'til you peed. All in fun, people. All in fun.)

I want to be alone when I'm mad. (No change there.)

When I am alone I often think about trips. (Again, no change.)

If I had a store I would sell things to wear like dresses, shirts, rings & necklaces. (Actually owning a store is something I still think about often.)

I would make a lot of money like $40.00. (Very close estimate to my current monthly earnings! JK.)

My favorite foods were spaghetti, jell-o, grape Hi-C & birthday cake. (Lost the jell-o love & the bastards changed grape Hi-C's flavor, but I still love some spaghetti & cake!)

In the summer I swim. (Shocking, I know.)

My favorite time of year is summer so I can be out of school & swim. (YES!)

I love to wear my Wonder Woman bikini. (Some things never change. Now, I just don't wear mine in public.)

I wish I never had to wear a coat. (So that's where my kids get it.)

If I had a million dollars I would buy anything I wanted, MAYBE. (Good to know I was hesitant.)

I would give some of it to friends, my dad, the rest of my family. (The strikethrough was from 2nd grade. I must have been pissed. Except at dad.)

I would save most of it for ME (duh) and I might build a McDonald's. (What can I say? Dexter had JUST gotten one & it was my cuisine of choice, after donuts.)

My favorite subject is math. (That has definitely changed but I was regularly the math match champion at this point in my life. Aaaaah, the glory days.)

When I grow up I might be an airline stewardess (I now hate to fly & stewardesses were much more glamorous then but I distinctly remember this being my goal), lawyer (started down that path & chose to be a good wife instead of a kickass criminal attorney), or a baker. (I do still love to cook but not professionally.)

I would like to learn how to cheerlead. (Thank God I fulfilled some dreams. Thanks to whoever overlooked my clumsiness in 7th & 8th grade & went with, "those stick legs will look killer in some royal blue BHS knit knee-highs & saddle oxfords" I will be forever grateful.)

Thinking about wanting to be a stewardess, as they were known way back then, got me thinking about the short-lived show "Flying High", about a few stewardesses who lived together in a city, one of whom was Connie Sellecca. I loved it & I thought she was the epitome of beauty. Of course, like my other short-lived favorite, "The Kalikaks", it was cancelled. Of all people, Connie married John Tesh. I was rooting for my dad at the time, I think. And that got me thinking about the series "Hotel" that she starred in with James Brolin, who was one of my huge crushes at the time before he went all loco and married Yentl herself, Barbra Streisand. ( At least he gave us Josh so we could continue to lust within his gene pool.) Aaaand, the word "hotel" got me to thinking that I need to get off my rear & pack for our vacation.

And I wonder why my middle child suffers from distraction issues?

Maybe I'll miss you guys so much that I blog from the road. If not, see you in a week or so.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Fitting Tribute To This Fine Nation We Live In

For the past two years, we've been in Fairhope, AL or Seacrest Beach, FL for the Fourth of July (which I would like to point out is NOT the "Forth" of July). We watched fireworks celebrations from great vantage points & drank strawberry Crush from tall, glass soda bottles, a tradition my grandma started when I was a wee babe, toddling around the family picnics we had on or about the Fourth. Going to pick one out of the freezing-cold soda cooler at Aileen's Grocery is an incredibly fond memory & one I would re-live in a heartbeat if given the chance. Those were the days, were they not?

This year, Chuck & I went to Home Depot. To celebrate our nation's independence. Complete with festive, prom-like balloon arches. Where were my sequins and dye-to-match satin pumps? What? No one is here to photograph us under it? I feel robbed already!
We were there because he needed a new soaker hose. And a new nozzle. (I know there's a joke there. It writes itself, so I won't.) He needed the soaker hose to water the garden we have that consists of 4 hosta sprouts & 6-8 marigolds. Don't get me wrong, I'm very appreciative that his mother carted plants from Missouri to improve our landscape. It's more than we've done since we moved into our house in 1997, not counting new shrubs. HOWEVER, the garden hose we currently have would MORE than have covered this patch of botanical glory. If anything, we should have been there in search of grass seed. Quick-growing, no-fail grass seed. Because our front yard is 1/2 grass & half dusty baseball field. They're only young once so I say "who cares"? Let it be a ball field. But he needed a soaker hose. And he gets a CART.

I point out that we don't need a cart. Surely between the two of us we can lug this hose to the check-out lane, right? No. Because as ANY man will tell you, when entering Home Depot, "You never know what we might pick up." Barring a check-out girl (or boy) or a shiny new toilet, I can't really imagine what we're going to pick up that we need a cart for. But we have one. And we set out. We find the hose & nozzle right away. After waiting for an elderly couple (read 'Chuck & Noelle in 28 years') to argue over the length of garden hose they need & move out of our way, we quickly find a suitable soaker hose. But then, as you know, if you've ever been to Home Depot, now is the part where we look for the stuff we DIDN'T come for. Like toilets, and light fixtures & mailboxes, oh my!

"Lightbulbs! We need lightbulbs!" he says. All I can think is "It's still gonna take a lot of lightbulbs to justify this cart." But we head for the lightbulbs & argue over what size we need, (yep, just like the old couple - we're well on our way) until I lose it and refuse to do a return if they're wrong, because I do not do returns. If I'm not sure, I don't buy it & if by chance I make a mistake, the item will stay in the bag with the receipt well after the 30 days pass & Chuck yells (ok, that's too strong, but he raises his voice) at me that I've wasted his hard-earned money. (See exhibit A - pair of jeans from Target, hanging on our pegboard in Target bag. Perhaps they would fit your son. You may have them.) So after assuring him that we don't need ANYTHING else, we head for the checkout. And our cart looks like this:

Thank God they're not gas-powered. What a waste THAT would have been. Those of you who know Chuck from his younger days manning the Western Auto sales floor will appreciate the fact that he next insists on self-check. He swears it saves time. I swear it's because getting behind that machine is the closest he ever gets to being behind a cash register again. That was a time in his life that he talks about often. And if it takes him back to a fond memory he'd re-live in a heartbeat if given the chance, then I say ok, sweet wife that I am.

And God Bless America! Balloon arches, soaker hoses & all.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's Been A While, I Know....Summer Update

Every time I get the urge to give up on this little blog, I soon get the urge to write again & hey, Blogspot is free, so why not? I've been absent lately because the last month or two of school was VERY hard for me. At first I thought it was just the usual things like Ryder mentally checking out of her schoolwork & getting an attitude about 8 weeks before the end, Wyatt struggling to turn in assignments & having an unhappy teacher at times, Brooks just being his cranky, grumpy self because the sky wasn't the right shade of blue, & Chuck having a huge project & more travel. That would be enough to send someone back to not wanting to get out of bed & crying at the drop of a hat, right? I sensed something else though & went back to my doctor for a medication change & voila', here I am. Properly medicated & on the road to recovery, AGAIN. Appears my serotonin levels were good but my dopamine levels needed something too. And so my medication was adjusted. Let me just say that depression is a bitch & those who have dealt with it understand, those who don't, well, just let me reiterate that you don't have to have a reason or trauma to be stricken with this. And it's nothing to be ashamed of. Add to this, a situation in which we felt a close family friend & coach was given a raw deal & the anger that accompanied that incident & summer was not off to a great start. It HAS gotten better though. And Chuck's big project has come to a close (there will be more - thank GOD, they do provide well) but a short break will be welcome.

Now, we're back to hanging at the pool, which at first was depressing because my crowd was not showing up. The pool queen's minions had better stuff to do??? Like what, people? Work?? My kids were less than enthusiastic because "we don't know anyone here anymore!!!" I was bracing myself for a summer of hell. But, I made some new friends, some old ones began coming & happiness returned. I'm now a much happy ruler of my kingdom. And the kids can sit their ass at home if they're not happy.

Ryder turned 16 & took full possession of her keys & Jeep. It hasn't been as bad as I thought. I really decided worrying does no good so I just have to have faith in her, the good Lord & hopefully a few guardian angels, that she'll make wise decisions and be fine. She has survived one wreck in which she was a passenger & responsibly had on her seatbelt. No injuries, thank God. She's loving the freedom & I love that I can send her to the store & am no longer the taxi to everyone under 17! Although at times, I actually miss that. Yes. True.

In 4 days we hit the road for our annual trip to Seacrest Beach, FL. It's much needed for all of us, I think. This year we have decided to do less "stuff" like the water park & spend a lot more time just relaxing by the pool & ocean or on the upper deck. I'm even hoping for one rainy, stormy day where I can hole up inside, read and stitch. And play board games. Fun stuff. And hook up with some friends who will be there at the same time.

A friend & I took our boys & climbed the "hard" side of Pinnacle Mountain 2 weeks ago. I think my boys were into it the least but they've sure talked about it a lot since so I think they had the same sense of accomplishment I did. I'm ready to do it again, without kids. Awesome view at the top. On the way down Brooks commented that a Subway would make the experience better.

We've also been blessed with unexpected guests that have greatly added to the boys' summer experience. Our friends, the Murrays, came in for a few days from New Jersey & their boys slept over at our house. They were all best friends before the move & it was great to see them pick up right where they left off. My boys said it was "the best night of our lives"! And did I take one photo? No.

Our neighbor across the street had his grandson visiting from FL & we were basically ready to adopt him. Such a sweet kid, and although he's older than both our boys, he was so good at being friends with both of them. All three stayed in our den one night & played Monopoly late into the night. Not a struggle or argument was heard so we locked the bedroom door and left them to fend for themselves. They were still asleep at 10:30 the following morning. And they played together the entire next day without a cross word or complaint. We REALLY miss Tyler!

And now, I conclude this update & head for bed because one of my least favorite things is occurring. Chuck has picked a show to watch & is desperately trying to convince the kids that they do indeed like it (when they clearly don't) by pointing out what's happening in every single scene. And every 5 minutes, Brooks says, "But Dad, we don't care about Ken Burns' Baseball. I told you it's for OLD people. I'll watch it when I'm OLD." And he just concluded his argument to watch "Man v. Wild" with "Would you believe, Dad, he once had to drink his own pee?"

You're welcome.

Monday, June 6, 2011

From A Child's Perspective

I was going through some of my 9 yr. old son Brooks' school work from this year & this one never ceases to make me laugh. His teacher gave them a sheet of prompts that are actually common sayings & asked them to finish them. The words Brooks used to complete his are in all caps. Some he finished in the traditional manner. Some he did NOT. I love it:

Better to be safe than SORRY.

It is always darkest before LIGHT.

Never underestimate the power of LOVE. :-)

You can lead a horse to water but YOU CAN LEAD IT TO FOOD TOO.

Don't bite the hand that BIT YOU FIRST.

No news is NO SAFETY. (??)

You can't teach an old dog TO EAT.

If you lie down with the dogs you'll CRY.

Love all, trust ME. ;-)

Where there's smoke, there's FIRE.

Two is company, three is MORE MONEY.

Don't put off until tomorrow what COULD HAVE HAPPENED TODAY.

Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and THE WHOLE WORLD CRIES WITH YOU.

None are so blind as THE BIRD.

Children should be seen and not BE SHOWN.

If at first you don't succeed AT LAST YOU SHOULD!

You get out of something what you DO.

When the blind leadeth the blind SAW.

The pen is mightier than the PEOPLE.

I thought this was a really cool thing to have them do. Kind of gives you a window into how they think. Being on the cusp of 10 and into "double digits" when November comes, I know that his work and his mind will continue to get more serious and I'll miss stuff like this. For now I'll just hug him tight & enjoy what he sends my way.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Dallas Chronicles - Part Deux or "Did He Just Call Me A Terrorist?"

Oh, what fun Dallas had in store (no pun intended) for us on Day #2. We woke up in our lovely hotel room to NO hot water. Or at least I had no hot water. I called the front desk & said, "I must be doing something wrong. It seems we have no hot water." The front desk replied, "Oh, no. You don't have any. They'll have it back on in about 20 minutes." Megan waited patiently for me to curse myself by deciding to just skip the shower & get ready so, of course, when I reached the "no turning back" stage, the hot water came on full blast for her. Nice.

We headed north to take on the shoe sale at Nordstrom Rack. That place is heaven, not only for shoes but clothing. I spent a bit more than I should have I'm sure, but dang, that place was filled with deals! Most notably, these. (I got them cheaper. Don't judge. MUCH cheaper, if Chuck should ask.) It started a chain of black-shoe buying that lasted much of the day. Including these in black, and deviating from the black theme for a little variety, these in brown. And some adorable dresses at rock-bottom prices. And maybe a couple more pair of shoes. I LONG to return. :-)

By this time, hunger had hit us and we headed for Chipotle, which, in addition to Nordstrom RACK, was something else Megan introduced me to on the trip. Barbacoa bowl? YUM! I hear we're getting one soon in Little Rock & I cannot wait to take Chuck. Fast, efficient & GOOD. Just what two women on a shopping mission needed. For the record, "fast, efficient & good" referred to Chipotle, not Chuck.
By this time we needed to head even further north to Frisco, TX and IKEA, mecca of ultra-cheap, yet hip decor. We were met at IKEA by Adam & Sam, Megan's future husband & his brother. My last trip to the place was a complete nightmare since I forgot that the cheap prices mean absolutely no help at all loading your heavy particle-board furniture onto the cart & into your "already-stuffed-with-shoes" Suburban. It was such a pleasure to go grab what I needed & have two guys at my beckon call to do the hard work. We then headed to the Corner Bakery for lunch, which was fun & then said goodbye to the boys & headed back south.

Off then to North Park Center, possibly the only truly cool mall left in North America. It's home to lots of my favorite stores, but sadly, no longer Lilly Pulitzer. We did however hit anthropologie, Kate Spade (there we only lusted after things & were inspired by the decor), Barneys (again, only lust), Nordstrom, LOFT, Carolina Herrera (again major lust, after the spectacular dresses & Argentinian salesboy - he was a GOD, I tell you), Urban Outfitters, etc. North Park is a dream. Right down to their landscaping & original works of art. A.MA.ZING.

Looking up in entryway of Barney's New York - Love how they integrated modern sculpture into the store's design!
ALMOST makes me pine for my uterus. But not quite.
Somewhere in here we also hit West Elm, where I was able to complete our new "prison bedding ensemble" (Chuck's words) with the grey/white sheets that match our duvet, & Megan purchased an ultra-cool garden gnome who died an untimely death on her apartment stairs. Luckily, Adam found a clone for her in Austin. From here we headed to the Galleria, where we hit another Nordstrom shoe dept. & had a great dinner at Mi Cocina. Now we're full, but worn out? NEVER. We head back to our hotel, unpack our loot & hit the sidewalks for some night photography downtown. We had so much fun.
We discovered we have a shared love of retro signs...

Gazed in the windows of the original flagship Neiman-Marcus...

Watched a couple exit their wedding reception in style...
We wandered, uninvited, into this awesome boutique hotel called The Joule, that has a freaking rooftop pool that hangs over the street and a wine cellar to end all wine cellars, at least as far as being funkily lit...
Exterior of The Joule
Two giant, slowly revolving gears at the check-in desk...& below, the wine shop.
Found other quirky stuff to photograph...
Doors on a ultra-hip club we bypassed...

And lastly, I was accused of terrorism on homeland soil...I mean, you people didn't think I would go away for three days and not get in trouble for something, did you? (At least it didn't involve the Argentinian salesboy. Begrudge me that.) Megan & I are walking along, minding our own business & shooting photos in the dark Dallas night. I mean, it was not unbelievable that someone could have been lurking, waiting to shoot J.R. as he worked late. We happen to walk by the Comerica Bank building, rather BORING in and of itself, but they have saved light fixtures from an era waaaay back that I think are very cool & those are adorning their lobby. There are also two gorgeous light fixtures on either side of the entry. I love preservation of the old. And so I sought to CAPTURE that old stuff on my camera. By shooting UPWARD. On the SAME side of the street the building sits on. I am nothing if not a rebel, people. That is now, according to the dickhead, non-uniformed, security guard, ILLEGAL in the United States. So don't go claiming you didn't know that. I repeat, "You are not allowed to photograph a tall building in the United States while standing on the same side of the street the building sits on, looking up at it." But you CAN, however, cross the street and shoot up at the VERY SAME BUILDING. How many people are rotting in our jail system for this very offense? One would wonder. We were caught off-guard and didn't think of any witty comebacks until we got back to our room. In all honesty, he didn't look like he would jump on the witty bandwagon so it was likely just as well. I avoided arrest by the forces of Homeland Security & here are the two controversial photos that I am NOW, MR. SECURITY GUARD, releasing to the entire WORLD via the internet. Do with them what you will. Just don't say you got them here. And for the record, in Texas, it's pronounced, "tare-ist", said really fast.

Thank GOD, I didn't try to stalk "W" at his new residence in the Big D or I would have made the evening news. (Because I love him, people. Tone down the hate. Co-EXIST.) Always have to leave something for next trip.....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Dallas Chronicles - Part One

Several months (or maybe even a year or so???) ago, I met a girl on Twitter. She responded to a tweet about one of my kids & their love of bacon & we then continued to exchange tweets, became Facebook friends (of course) & well, the rest is history. A few lunches here & there were enough for us to find out we share a mutual love of author Jen Lancaster, of "Bitter Is The New Black" & "Such A Pretty Fat" fame. When Megan found out she was coming to Dallas to promote her new book, "If You Were Here", we were all OVER that. Would I want to take a trip to Dallas the weekend of May 6th and meet Jen? Hell, yeah. Would Megan like to stay another night & take in some fabulous Dallas shopping? Hell, yeah. It was a go. I didn't look at the calendar to see that it was Mother's Day weekend at the time, but would it have changed anything? No. These precious little darlings can celebrate having me for a mutha ANY day of the week. Jen only comes along so often. And so begins my first interstate adventure with the girl Chuck refers to as my "internet girlfriend."

I drove. Which, if Megan has a vote next time, will likely not happen. For a short while, as we were pulling into the Dallas suburbs, I mistook the shoulder for an extra traffic lane. And drove in it for quite some time. I tried to play it cool hoping she didn't notice but she's a sharp one, that Megan. In our hotel room she said, "Did you realize you drove on the shoulder for a while?" Uh, I totally MEANT to do that? No, I just said, "Damn, I was soooo hoping you were not taking that in." She was. And trying to keep from laughing. Swear to anything, we did NOT have our first drink until much later that evening. I have no explanation. Except that my horoscope says I'm "aloof".

The hotel. Awesome. I usually Priceline my trips to Dallas but Megan had heard about Hotel Indigo & I looked it up online, finding not only reasonable rates but that Chuck, domestic traveler extraordinaire, is a Priority Club member with InterContinental Group. Sweet. They don't have a room with two beds but if we get there early they can probably upgrade us. I ask Megan if she wants to take a chance on having to share a bed and without hesitancy, she says "Let's just go for it." We figure, if nothing else, we can charm the desk clerk. We arrive & immediately fall in love. With the accommodations. Not each other. Very beachy-themed hotel, which is a tad odd for Dallas but sooooo cool. And we got a suite with a sleeper sofa for me. Yea!

After soaking up the accommodations & figuring out where we need to go, we head out for the North Park area since that's where the Barnes & Noble where Jen is signing her book is located. I had called Thursday morning to reserve books, as well as tickets, for us & luckily, since I called right when the tickets were released to the public we got Group "A" tickets! Which meant we were in a group of about 50 who got to be seated for her talk AND got our books signed first. Let me just say, it was awesome to meet her. She's as hilarious & candid & down-to-earth as she seems in her books and on her blog We were hoping for an invitation to go out for cocktails but there was a huge crowd and we bombed in that category. Thankfully, so also did the suck-ups that brought her LOTION & PLAID-WRAPPED GIFTS. Plus, we rest easy knowing that we didn't look like brown-nosers. And, I'll say it again, she thought we were sisters & liked my skirt (which isn't a skirt). All in all a fun evening, not only being entertained by Jen but the odd misfits that being famous brings out in droves. Surely we are NOT in that category. Don't you dare go there.

Since we were lacking an invitation for cocktails, we hopped across the street & had dinner at Maggiano's in North Park, probably one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. As we headed to our booth, one of those semi-circular, corner, romantic booths, I slip on the wood floor and slide dramatically into the booth, causing the people seated across from us to practically spit out their veal cutlets & stare at me throughout the entire dinner as if I was going to offer an encore performance. Nice. But the dinner was great. The meals were HUGE and the Appletini's hit the spot.
We went back to the hotel that night, stuffed & exhausted but ready to start Jen's new book, "If You Were Here". We talked until we fell asleep, & had sweet dreams of Nordstrom RACK, which we planned to take on the next day........

Part 2 coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Should Have Married Martha.....

Chuck decides last night at the stroke of midnight to start the following conversation. Actually it was 11:53 but that doesn't sound as dramatic.

C: I was reading an article in SW Airlines Spirit magazine & I think we should raise some chickens.
ME: Aren't we? Two of them finally quit clucking an hour ago.
C: Real chickens.
ME: Here? On Waverly Drive? In the middle of Little Rock?
C: Yes. You can build a chicken coop for around $100 dollars.
ME: You can do a lot of things for around $100 but that doesn't mean I want you to. No chickens. Why in the hell do we need chickens?
C: So we can have eggs.
ME: We have eggs. Perfectly good eggs.
C: But they aren't OURS.
ME: I paid for them at Kroger. They are most certainly ours.
C: But wouldn't it be nice to just go out and get them in the backyard? We could just gather them and bring them in and they would be all nice and not even cracked.
ME: No. No, it would not. That's why styrofoam was invented. If I were a betting woman & someone had me put $30 on the chances of an egg in a styrofoam carton making it to Little Rock via I-40, in a semi, from a dairy in Knoxville, completely unscathed OR the chances of you carrying a basket of eggs up our deck stairs without tripping, I'm gonna go with the Tennessee trucker every time.
C: It would be fun. The kids could help.
ME: Really? The kids could help? Ryder's gonna clean out the chicken coop? Wyatt's your only hope. And that's a stretch. Remember Apollo? How good they are to help with him?
C: Night.
ME: Night.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Know When To Hold Em

Chuck & I got away this weekend. For about 28 hours, anyway. We headed over to Tunica, MS, entertainment capital of the Delta for some rest, relaxation & good music. I mean, how often does one get the opportunity to see Gary Allan live??? Apparently for me, every few months. Don't judge. And Chuck caught him once at Riverfest without me. But it's never enough. Ever. The man is hot & can sing. Enough said.

We started out in typical fashion with Chuck having a traditional last-minute panic attack that the car wasn't clean enough. So we (read that "I") had to make a trip through the car wash, so as not to be offensive to any hitchhikers we picked up along the way. Then we realized we forgot the concert tickets so I went back home and got those. That seems to be a tradition for us too. We ALWAYS forget tickets. After watching Brooks' ballgame, we turned the kiddos over to my Dad (and Jimb0) & hit the road. Except Chuck forgot to get cash. So we had to find an ATM, which, of course, was out of cash. So we had to use the "indispensable" bank app to locate another EVEN THOUGH I WAS TELLING HIM THE ENTIRE TIME, "On JFK Blvd, in Park Hill! You don't need no stinkin' app! C'mon, we're burnin' daylight". Once we got cash, we had an uneventful trip to Memphis. But only because I refused to stop and dance at a strip club along I-40 to earn Chuck some gambling money. (He wasn't serious, holy relatives & friends. Do stop reading to fan yourself a moment. Or drink some liquor. It does a body good.)

But oh, Lord! We hit Memphis. And he thinks we need to use the iPhone map app to get directions even though he has been before and knows the way, cause that makes sense, RIGHT? My husband is the king of utilizing technology unnecessarily. I was like, "Just drive SOUTH. We won't be that far off if it's not this road." So that launches a few miles of discord until I win by refusing to touch the phone & we're all happy again. All two of us. Driving along this lonesome highway that reminds me very much of Missouri Hwy. 60, between Dexter & Sikeston. Which is to say, desolate, unpopulated, dusty farmland. And then....all of a sudden there's Harrah's! "Turn here!" See? Who needs a damn app? Easier than following a yellow brick road.

We check in & decide to save Paula Deen's Buffet for breakfast thinking she'll serve up some hearty grub in the morning too. Right now we want to eat something substantial & well, a little nice. Actually, Chuck wants to sleep but no one sleeps on vacation with a Swafford unless it's after 11 p.m. & you've been given express permission from Noelle or Norm to close your eyes. Period. (Just try us. Goofy Golf at 9:00 p.m. in Florida? Who's in? Not Chuck or Debbie.) I digress. We choose Jack Binion's Steakhouse, which is conveniently located in the same casino at the Bluesville joint where Gary is playing. We take a 6:15 reservation and head out. I suggest that we ask the desk clerk exactly how to get over to the Horseshoe Casino but I should know better than to suggest something so clearly out of line and ILLOGICAL. Because why? Because the iPhone has a fucking map app on it, RIGHT? I'm going to cut this part short and say that the 2 mile trip ended with me saying, "Just shut the hell up & drive toward that tower! And USE THE VALET OR BE KILLED." We made it. Will he ever learn?

Jack Binion's Steakhouse was great. My knowledge of the Binion casino empire is much more extensive than Chuck's because for about three years, anytime I was editing client photos or sitting on my ass, I had crime TV on. So I knew that Jack's dad, Benny, founded the Horsehoe Casino brand and Jack's brother, Ted, who was also in the business & heavily into drugs was allegedly murdered by his stripper girlfriend and another of her boyfriends but both were later acquitted after initially being found guilty. (I'm nothing if not good for an impromptu round of Jeopardy, folks. Please begrudge me that.) Anyway, we were seated and I loved that we had one of those high-backed, semi-circular, plush booths where you scoot in and sit beside each other. Seriously, I felt like I was having an illicit affair with JR Ewing at the Cattlemen's Club, except Chuck failed to remember to wear his Stetson. Seated next to us was an obvious high roller with his even-more-obvious mail-order Oriental bride. They were complaining to the manager that the food was awful and that the waiter did not like them. So initially we thought we might have made a mistake in choosing our dinner locale, but thank God, it appeared that they were just trying to get out of buying a nice meal because the food (NY Strip & Filet of Salmon) was to die for. I highly recommend it. And James, the same waiter to the other couple, had no problem whatsoever with US. But really, I'm nothing if not charming, to MOST.

As for the concert, we ALL know I love Gary Allen and I've seen him more times than I've birthed babies but dear God, the man can perform. It was no less awesome than any other time I've seen him. And if you get a chance to catch someone you really like at Bluesville, inside the Horseshoe, please do it because it's an excellent venue for live music.

I'll spare you the rest of the details from our trip but suffice it to say we had a great time & as for the "How much did you win???" question........we lost $3 that we put in a slot machine to try to win my mother a fortune. Yes, we went to Tunica & gambled exactly $3. I know, right? Not big gamblers, the Buttrys. Actually, if you count the quarter that rolled under the Pepsi machine at midnight, we lost $3.25. And we found our way back home without once using the phone.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Want My Mullet Back (Not yet available on iTunes)

You've probably been asked what you would grab besides your family if your home caught fire. This is one of the things I would grab. It's one of those things I don't ever want to lose because it makes me smile & it perfectly captures the essence of who Wyatt is. He wrote it in the 3rd grade around age 8 at the height of his Weird Al obsession. (I guess it was before he had an official "Rap Notebook".) I'm glad he did it at home because I'm confident his 3rd grade teacher would have tossed it. I don't really expect any of my kids to take a traditional path in life, which mystifies some of our relatives, but in my house, "creativity & happiness" trump perfection. I may not be right, but only time will tell. It's worked pretty well so far for my dad and me.

And now for the translation, since legible handwriting has never been Wyatt's forte':

I want my mullet back!
Too bad I'm gettin' fat! I'll just use my Cardinals hat!
Oh, I forgot that I'm the "King of Cellulite"! (ok, that line could use some work, originally he spelled it cellulat!)

What could I wear?
Prada, Juicy Couture? (sister's influence is obvious)
How about what Jimmy Buffet wore on tour?

I could wear a trendsetter hat!
No, that's lame. I can't decide.
What a shame!

It's like it's right beside meeeee.
I need to fleeeee!
I know what it is --- Gucciiiiii!

Now what kind of music do I need?
Bow-wow? Fergie? Yuck!
I guess I'm having no luck!
The Dixie Chicks? Too girly!
I'll find someone, surely!
Not Bon Jovi or Buddy Holly...

I need to find him quick!
Who should I pick?
How about Weird Al Yankovic?

Yes, that's it!

Written by: Wyatt Buttry

I really do adore my three.