Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday - Whining about Walmart

This afternoon, I had to do a little bit of shopping.


And I admit that it made me just a little bit grumbly.

Now, I realize that some folks out there really love Walmart. I just don’t happen to be one of them. I tend to avoid the place like the plague and venture in only when really necessary. That’s because no matter how positive my attitude when I go in, I inevitably begin to mutter before I come out…

If I let myself, I can think of dozens of little grumbles. But in the interest of brevity…and because I’m ready for bed… here are just a few of the things I was thinking on the Great Walmart Adventure today.

I wondered...

1. Exactly how much do they pay that person to reconfigure this place every six days just to keep us all in that state of retail confusion?

2. And when they make those changes to Perpetually Morphing Mart, is there a reason that they must do so during peak shopping hours? What ever happened to restocking shelves at night?

3. And why is the woman who is healthy enough to do the hundred acre walkabout considered too weak and frail to go an extra ten feet into the parking lot when she’s finished? This irks me. If Walmart feels the need to give preferential treatment to a subgroup of mommies, I nominate the mothers of 7th graders. They need a break.

4. Who has EVER been able to get in and out of our Walmart pharmacy in 15 minutes?

5. Why is the popcorn on the beer and wine aisle? This is odd to me. Why isn’t it on the snack aisle? And as a Baptist, am I not supposed to be eating popcorn either?

6. Why are all those great values bilingual? It’s not that I really mind it, but aren’t some items kind of self explanatory? Take this rice for example...What else could this white stuff in the transparent bag possibly be?

It needed subtitles?

7. Why did they bother to put in checkout stations number 11-20 if they are never going to open them? And how can a self check station be “closed”?

8. Did this aisle just literally get smaller? Honestly, sometimes I feel like I'm in Wonka Land.

9. Why doesn’t Walmart have little market baskets like other grocery stores?  This is a big peeve of mine since I usually venture into Walmart for just a handful of things. But then I remember that this is Walmart… Therefore, I will undoubtedly end up standing in line with that armful of things. So I grab a cart, which I must now maneuver through the fun house of incredibly shrinking aisles along with the other zombies who came in for an armful and ended up with a cart.

Of course, once that cart is glued to my fingers, twenty-one random items not on my list leap magically into it, thus disqualifying me from the speed check aisle.

(Hmm.  I think I just answered question # 9)

And why do I always manage to leave Walmart with the twenty- one magical leapers but without the one thing that lured me into the place to begin with?

10. Why does the person with whom I haven’t had a conversation in 15 years feel the need to hail me down and yakkity yak it up in the produce section? Are they completely oblivious to those looks we are getting from the other cart zombies? And why is it that these people have inevitably just developed pictures of their grandchildren?

And one more thing…

Why don’t I ever see those People of Walmart at my Walmart?
(By the way, If you want to inject a little mischief into the Great Walmart Adventure, whip out a shiny red Kodak and watch the people react. )

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lessons From a Piney Stick Forest

The other morning I was wheeling across the 30 country mile commute… sipping some coffee, singing along with music, and talking with God. It's what I usually do. Sometimes, I sip in silence and try to listen, but mostly, I monopolize the conversation. That particular morning, I was doing a lot of yakking. And it was that type of God yakking that is really more of a pity party lamentation.

Because I was overcome by the state of my world.

As I rounded the curve, this guy pulled out in front of me. Ugh.

Now, one encounter that I dread more than most along that country commute is the encounter with the log truck. Not only does it slow my pace and mess with my groove, it also plays into my phobias. I hate the way the logs bounce up and down in their precarious perch. I imagine one slipping from its chains and hurling like a torpedo through the windshield of my car…decapitating me. That’s just the way I think. In addition to the torpedo phobia, I hate that the loose pine bark sails through the air and pings the car windows, especially when the truck is newly loaded as this one was.

So I slowed Ebenezer and slid to the shoulder to put some distance between me and the offending logger. And since the shiny red Kodak was in my purse anyway, I whipped her out and took that picture… just in case I wanted to blog a complaint.

And it was at that moment that God used his piney stick forest to yak back.

Appearances, God reminded me, can be very deceiving. Because when I looked over my shoulder, this is what I saw.

A dark and confusing mass of trunks and limbs, obscured by a twisted thicket. I’m pretty certain there were snakes in there too. Pretty much the way I see the world these days...

But this is a planted piney stick forest.

So I took two steps to my left...

And two steps more... Until that same forest looked like this.

Not so dark and scary now.  

All just a matter of perspective.

And for some oddball reason, very comforting to me.      

Our Sunday School lesson this morning is about Palm Sunday. I love the fact that the beloved disciple had fewer words to say about the drama than the other gospel writers. I guess he figured that his verbose buddies had the details covered. But there was one thing that John alone added that caught my eye.

At first his disciples did not understand this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.
John 12:16

Huh. Imagine that. Even they didn’t quite get it right away. It took some time and perspective to see that what looked a bit crazy and confusing was all part of the perfectly planted plan of God. I guess they needed to have their own piney stick forest moment.

Have a happy Palm Sunday.
And, Hosanna!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Whimsical Birthday

Today is Miss Whimsy’s 18th birthday. Where did the time go?

I started the celebration by croaking out the Happy Birthday song and delivering French vanilla coffee to her in bed. She was her usual morning grump for the first few minutes. Yep. Nothing much has changed since that morning 18 short years ago. Even then, she was a bit of a pain and made the grand entrance at glacial speed. I don’t sweat it. She eventually descends from the Turret Room on time and cheerful.

Who wouldn’t be cheerful at 18?

We won’t have the official family celebration until next week when the college girls come home for Easter, but the birthday girl doesn’t mind. She’ll get to spend this auspicious evening with friends.

Growing up, she didn’t have a “friend party” every year. When our girls began arriving, my sister and I agreed that we would celebrate family- style for most of their birthdays and help each other throw festive friend occasions every few years.

The sister was (and still is) my faithful partner in crime, the perpetual Ethel to my Lucy. Someday I’ll yak all about her. Ethel and I loved to put together theme parties. We make a pretty good team. I concoct a notion, and she figures out a way to bring it to fruition…under budget. We repeated each theme party four times for our collective princesses. By the time Miss Whimsy came along, we had reached the near pinnacle of penny pinching party perfection.

Not surprisingly, their first theme was the fairy princess party. We made little purple capes for each princess to wear over their dresses and crafted jeweled tiaras to go along with them. Now, those were the pre Hobby Lobby days when crafting wasn’t nearly as easy or fabulous as it is today. Grandpa made magic wands, all glittered up for the occasion.

We pilfered appliance stores for boxes, which we faux bricked to transform our porches into fairy castle walls. They ate pink food and sipped pink punch, and we played “Pin the Crown on the Princess” on a huge painted display that I had made at school using the trusty old opaque projector. We hunted in the lawn for little silver crowns ... which we made… by cutting, shaping, painting, and glittering dozens of empty dooters.

A “dooter” is familyspeak for empty toilet tissue and paper towel holders… so named for the “doot doot doot DOOOOOT” sound that Lucy and Ethel make when they blow them like a bugle. The Dooter is a multi- purpose do more of the highest degree, second only to the empty coffee can.

Lucy and Ethel hosted other parties too, but I’ll have to leave them for another time.

Because today, I’m focusing on the big 1-8, and I still have some things to do.

The birthday girl had to start this one with her breakfast on the go. She got her favorite chocolate muffins. Now, normally, I wouldn’t get mommy points for sending her off to school all sugared up, but this is her birthday. Therefore, I get a pass. She gets strawberries too because those are her favorites. And we pinked up the basket. Pink remains the official birthday color in Princess Land.

Super Dad headed out early this morning to put some of these along the 30 country mile commute.

 It won’t really be a surprise since we’ve done it before, but it’s our own silly version of a Burma Shave Birthday.

We recently added this simplification courtesy of The Duchess.

These weighted little sign holders were made out of (what else?) empty cans, PVC, and Quik Crete. Perfect for those places where a lawn sign is too stubborn to stand.
Wish we had thought of that many yard signs ago. 

Kids and birthdays. Just another favorite way of making memories. What are yours?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tip of the Day

I am not a tip snob.

You know the type, the ones who will not try anything unless they conjure it in their own imaginations. I’ll pretty much try any reasonable suggestion. And that would be the reason that I can tell this story and pass along this tip to you.

It all started over 20 years ago when my girls were babies, and I was sporting the haggis baggis face of the utterly sleep deprived. During this time, I read in some magazine that in Hollywood when they want a quick face lift, they apply Preparation H to their faces. Apparently, the product shrinks and tightens, giving a faux face lift.

I decided to give it a whirl. I hightailed to the Walmart to find the stuff, which I then felt the need to hide under the mound of less personal items in the cart. I also felt the need to yakkity yak my experiment to the cashier as she scanned it. (Because apparently, it was better for this total stranger to think that I would slather a product designed for the hinder parts on my face than for her to assume that I actually suffered from hemorrhoids...)

So I got myself all gussied up, determined to put my best face forward when the husband returned from a long week on the road. There I stood, waiting for him to notice my marvelous makeover.  I lifted my face expectantly for the welcome home smooch.

He leaned forward.

But then he stopped…. pulled back…. sniffed the air… and said, “I smell Desitin.”

Well, great.

 I had forgotten to take into account that the scent of Preparation H resembles that of the  medicated ointment slathered on offending baby butts during a diaper rash disaster. Let's face it, when you are trying to recapture a little romance, the last memory that you want to evoke in your man is that of a blistered baby bottom.

Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend it.

So, I was a bit cautious a while back when I read a similar suggestion for a face fix. This one did not provide the do it yourself face lift, but it did promise to prime the face for make up with the effectiveness of an expensive primer.

Now, if you are under the age of forty, you probably do not understand the need for a facial primer. Neither did I. When I was younger, I could slap on a little mascara and foundation and zip out the door. Somehow over the past 30 years, it became a bit more of a craft project. Apparently, “we” have discovered that forty plus faces age like weathered old pieces of wood. Therefore, a little primer to fill the cracks before painting is now recommended.

The cosmetic companies have capitalized on this little tidbit by schlepping very expensive tubes of make up primer to desperate housewives. Now, weathered barn face or not, I am way too thrify  practical  cheap to pay big bucks for some silly facial primer. 

But I was interested when I read that the ingredients inside those expensive tubes are precisely the same as those in this tube of Monistat Chafing Gel:

For about six bucks, I decided to give it a try.

Well obviously, this little tip is a keeper since I’m bothering to mention it. It actually DOES give this old barn face a smooth surface. I know this, not merely from observation, but because I’ve become a walking bill board in my little town. The first to notice this face miracle was my hair stylist, and she has heralded it about to all of her friends, family, and customers ever since.  Now, everywhere I go, I am stopped by some random 40 something female who inspects my face and gives me the two thumbs up. I had two such encounters yesterday alone.

So there you have it: Miracle in a tube for about six bucks.
And it's even fragrance free.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tickled Pink

So yesterday morning, I set out with the family to enjoy a day at the Macon, Georgia, Cherry Blossom Festival, an event dubbed the “Pinkest Party on Earth”. Our trip to Macon was actually planned around a collegiate Parents Weekend with the Practical One, but the fact that it was timed to coincide with the Cherry Blossom Festival made us (that would be me) anticipate it all the more.

Because although my theme color for 2010 is orange, my favorite color is actually pink. And any reason to party in the pink is OK by me.

Macon, Georgia, by the way, boasts more cherry trees than any city in the entire US. The famed cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. pale by comparison. Seriously.

So we set out...even though that husband of mine voiced serious doubts as to whether I would actually see the celebrated cherry blossoms of Bibb County this year. He was positive that the same long winter which had inhibited our Japanese magnolias had likely intimidated the cherry blossoms as well. I, on the other hand, reckoned that cherry blossoms ought to have the same chutzpah as those pear trees which are currently decorating our street, and I set my stubborn heart on visiting Pink Paradise regardless of what that naysayer had to naysay.

I hate it when he’s right.

Because when we got to downtown Macon, this is what we saw.

Yep. Naked little cherry trees without the good grace to even blush. Oh, sure, they tried to hold up these festive little pink Chinese lantern disguises, but they weren’t fooling anyone. There was not a cherry blossom in sight. Not one.

I hrmphed for about a minute before deciding to get into the Pink Spirit nonetheless. After all, a day is what you make of it. So I set out on the Great Pink Exploration, determined to discover as much of that color, cherry blossom or not, as I could. I yakkity yakked through the festival area snapping pink pictures while the rest of the family lagged behind and pretended not to know me.

Here are some of my pink discoveries.

A pale pink pup.

This fellow was koolaid colored for the festivities. His name is Bo, and he was a friendly, but deaf, little guy. He let me pet him… before his owner had the chance to warn me that his “koolaid do” wasn’t quite dry yet. So, I guess that pink discovery #2 would technically be the palm of my hand. However, I neglected to photograph it so it doesn’t count.

Pink petals plastered all over the windows.

They decorated the stores, businesses, and even the cars.

 Everyone in Macon appears to get into the cherry blossom spirit. I liked it.

Pink Pretenders

From a distance, I thought these might be renegade cherry blossoms and actually jogged over to them, shiny red Kodak on high alert. Upon close inspection, I realized that they were just more Japanese magnolias.

Yes, I know. It was sort of a blonde moment...

And, more camellias… but pink nonetheless.

And these pink bushes. I have no clue what they are

And a Pink Poodle Pretender named Petals
At this point, the family was nowhere to be found... so certain were they that they would have to pose with that pretend poodle...

A precious pink pooch.
 His name was Whitney. He was fond of his hat. 

 A pink port~a~potty…. OK I was getting desperate…

Pink pillow pushers.

They were part of the bed races downtown. I think this team won. But they might have been edged out by these prideless pink Vikings.

Finally, we bought this...

A pink smoothie. In full disclosure, it wasn’t a cherry smoothie. Cherry ones won’t be offered at that smoothie stand until next week. Apparently, the cherry smoothies are on strike until the cherry blossoms actually arrive.

All in all, it was a fun day. The best part about it was that I got to spend time with my two favorite pink things, those daughters of mine. And Little Boy Blue was a pretty good sport too.

We had another grand adventure at Parents Weekend, but that will have to be a post of another day. I left this morning determined to return to try again another time.

And as I was leaving Macon, in the rain, I spotted this. 

Cherry blossoms...
I think they were mocking me...
But I took their picture anyway

Saturday, March 20, 2010

To Everything There is a Season...

Remember just a month ago when I posted this snow covered picture?

I said in that post that in about a month those same trees would be bursting with white of a different sort. I called it just about right because last weekend, a month to the day from my previous post, we saw the budding of the Bradford pears which line the streets of our neighborhood. By the time I left town yesterday, they were in almost perfect bloom. Look at the blue spring sky, too.

To everything, there is indeed a season.

The camellias and Japanese magnolias were late bloomers this year. There was no warm January to tempt them out a little too early. And camellias and Japanses magnolias are kind of like young girls...

...even lovelier if they wait to bloom in the appropriate season.

This little magnolia that could in our front lawn has big dreams...

She dreams of becoming this backyard beauty one day...

I think I can…. I think I can…

The blossoms are just the palest pink and absolutely beautiful to me

Of course, springtime in Dixie brings seasonal somethings of a different sort….

No, that’s not chalk dust on the driveway.

It’s pollen… Just one of the necessary evils of the season. Sort of like this one.

Because someone has to actually bake that pie that we are supposed to clamor for a piece of…..

To everything there is a season…

By the way, I'm currently in Macon, Georgia for its Cherry Blossom Festival, dubbed the pinkest party on earth. I can hardly wait to share the pinkness with you. Heading out right now with the shiny red Kodak. Stay tuned....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

O Pioneers!

As I was packing up a box of books which reside on the list to return to their rightful owner, I came upon this one.

And I smiled. I smiled not so much at the novel itself (a good one) but at the memory that the title of it evoked to Little Debbie. That memory meandered all the way to this morning's contemplation.

When I was little, we loved to explore the woods surrounding our neighborhood. That was long before neighborhoods were developed into subdivisions and we had shows like Criminal Minds which took the fun out of the forest and put the boogey man smack dab in the middle of it. It never occurred to us (or apparently our mothers) that carefree summer days and long explores could be dangerous things.

How we loved school vacation! We frittered away the days playing in the sunshine of our imaginations. Our very favorite game was pioneer family. We roamed the neighborhood, wearing prairie skirts and poke bonnets, scouring the ground for potato sized stones to plant (and then dig up) in our make believe gardens.

We pilfered our houses for props for our little prairie paradise. I remember dumping a flower arrangement out of a perfectly shaped basket belonging to the Duchess because I liked the way that it dangled from the crook of my arm. (Come to think of it, it’s the same basket which lives in my mind’s eye in this little fantasy.)

The Duchess never complained. She merely demanded that the props be returned to the 20th century whenever we did. To this day, she laughs about the time she caught us lugging some stone lawn chickens which had belonged to her grandmother across the prairie. We explained that we needed laying hens on the homestead... and then we headed out to find oval egg stones for those hens to lay.

Sometimes, we co opted historical figures. My brother always wanted to be Daniel Boone; another boy was Davy Crockett. Imagine our surprise when we learned years later that the two men were not contemporaries at all. All we knew was that they each wore coonskin hats, carried rifles, fought the “injuns”, and wrestled the “barrs”.

(Because we  spoke fluent Davy Crockett on our prairie. The mud puddle was “yonder crick”; the swamp which lead to the river, “the big slough”.)

Our bicycles were our horses, and we rode those nags for miles… wearing those coonskin hats and poke bonnets. Once we tried to hitch the bicycle horses to a wooden wagon. The poke bonnets sat in the wagon, and the coon skins drove the team. I think we pioneered about ten feet before the boys determined that we were ready to stake a claim…

We would keep this game, or a variation of it, going for the entire summer, rising early and gulping down our breakfasts so that we could meet the other settlers for a day of pioneering.Sometimes we packed a picnic lunch and spent the entire day on a great exploration.

We were adults before we told the Duchess that our favorite picnic spot was across a foot bridge to rocky wall of the local waterfall. 


 We got the two syllable scolding two decades too late.

Now, I admit that what I recollect as carefree childhood days might really qualify as careless ones. We roamed in the forest, played by the swamp, waded across the river, and picnicked by the rushing water. By the grace of God alone, we all made it to adulthood.

But this is what I’m pondering this morning: While my girls have childhood memories of their own poke bonnet days, I can’t help but wonder if maybe… just maybe… I erred too much on the side of caution.

Because I always tended to keep my princesses secured a little too safely behind the castle walls.
I still do…

I don’t know that many kids today enjoy the freedom of riding the two wheeled steed on the great exploration. And even if they try, the poke bonnet won’t fit under the bike helmet, and the prairie skirt would get tangled in the knee pads. Because we seem to be a culture obsessed with protection.

Maybe our children are victims of the imagination cultivated all those years ago on the prairie. It seems that way because I could always imagine the worst possible scenario whenever mine tried to pioneer west. Did the Duchess lack imagination, or did I lack trust? I honestly don’t know.

Somewhere is the happy medium between bike helmet and water falls. I just wish that I could figure out exactly where it lies.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Flunking St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! I just love this festive holiday. It’s a theme oriented gal’s dream, and it is one holiday this year that I do not intend to dye orange. Instead, I’m sticking to tradition. I read recently, by the way, that orange is “technically” acceptable on St. Patrick’s Day. Who knew?

Apparently, the color represents the Irish Protestants. According to this fellow,

 "Protestant Irish have been known as “orange” ever since 1690 when William of Orange (William III), the King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, defeated King James II, a Roman Catholic, in the Battle of the Boyne near Dublin…. Although the “Orange” in William’s name actually referred to a province in southern France, the color reference stuck. This is why orange now appears in the Irish flag – to symbolize the Protestant minority in Ireland."

So I considered (for about 5 seconds) going oddball orange this year. After all, I’m protestant… But then I decided to leave that wee bit of defiance to the protestants who are actually Irish. This German~ Italian~ Polish~ Baptist from south Georgia just needs to behave and wear the green like everybody else.

Because it’s fun.

It’s fun to watch elementary children head off to school all decked out, pinchers on stand- by for any nongreen offenders. It’s fun pretending to be Irish and imagining up new ways to color the world in various shades of emerald.

The Duchess turns utterly green and spends the day speaking like a leprechaun, saying things like “wee” and “saints preserve us” and “top ‘o the mornin’ to ya!” And she will tell the same Irish joke that she has told for the past 40 years, one that ends with the line, “….and me with a hole in me bloomers!” And we always laugh, not so much at the joke as at the Italian leprechaun trying to tell it.

So I'm all decked out in green and ready to celebrate the day. But I have to admit that I came precariously close to flunking St. Patrick’s Day this year.

When I'm working even part time, I can let things sneak up on me. Yesterday, for example, I let Miss Whimsy waltz off to school wearing her only green collared shirt. A more with it mom would have redirected her to save it for the Wearing ‘O the Green, but I goofed. Oh sure, she has other green shirts, but no other one obedient to the dress code. (another post… another day…) The best that she had to offer this morning was the notorious green hoodie of manic morning fame. It didn’t appear to bother her one bit. I, however, felt that I had scored and F in the Irish costume category.

I scored a “D” at best for the St. Patty’s Day breakfast too. I remembered too late last night about the glazed doughnuts with shamrock sprinkles. Instead, Miss Whimsy got a mundane muffin and some grapes. The grapes were green, hence the D instead of the F. To top it off, Super Dad is home. Mr. Helpful packed up the breakfast basket and whooshed it off to the car before I had a chance to make sure that at least the  napkin was green.


Besides the grapes, the only thing that kept me from utter failure was the purchase of a wee bit ‘o Irish for her coffee this morning.

 I stand firm that I indeed get a point for this even though it is knock off creamer of questionable great value. Had the store offered the real shebang, I would have purchased it. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

I also purchased some key lime yogurt for Super Dad to take to The Practical One today. Yes, I realize that key lime is not actually green… but limes are green so I’m going with it. I shall make it up to her by sending along some of that green stuff that college students really enjoy. The green of the spendable sort.

As for me, I am redeeming day by dubbing St. Patrick’s Day the official opening of green smoothie season. Since the man is home today, I made us green smoothies for breakfast. Opening Day Smoothies were made with kale and pineapple and banana. Now, I’m feeling festive AND wee bit healthier, too!

What about you? How are you dying your world green this festive day? Don't make me reach in there and pinch you...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hanging my Head

This afternoon during Sunday dinner with The Duchess, I looked out her kitchen window and saw this.

The Duchess prides herself on her green thumb. This lovely plant is part of a set of six which the Duchess purchased as we planned my niece’s Great Wedding Adventure in November. Her wedding colors were plum and green (some day I’ll yak all about it…), and the Duchess felt that this colorful Wandering Jew would be the perfect compliment to the terraced areas around her reception venue. It was. After the wedding, the Duchess kept only two of the plants and offered sets of two to my sister (the bride’s mom) and to me.

Considering the uncommonly long and cold winter we have had in these parts, I think the Duchess’s plants look really hearty. And because I have YET to learn to manage this tongue, I told her so…


Without thinking, the words slipped right out of my mouth and sailed through the air. I reached up with the hands to kind of back pedal them in, but it was too late. She had heard. And then, well of course, she inquired as to the condition of my own set of Wandering Jews. I muttered something about the cold winter and the lack of sunshine and about that thumb that I had inherited from my father.

She sighed and titched. And she told me to bring my plants to her house so that she can nurse them back to health.

Now, I realize that it’s a little silly for a 48 year old wife and mother of two to be afraid of her own mom…

But mine look like this.

Anyone else think that I’m about to get the the two syllable scolding?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's Just Not Orange

One night not long ago, we attended the (very) last event for one of the daughter’s many activities. Now, normally, such a thing would leave me a blubbering heap of sentimentality…being forced a step closer to that ever looming empty nest and all. This evening, however, left me just plain irked. I’ll consider it a great victory in brevity that I omit detail. Suffice it to say that a change in leadership had turned what was once a beloved pastime into an exercise in futility and frustration.

So after choking down the meal from a local restaurant (which ought to be called “The Heart Attack”) and doing the smile and nod throughout the entire evening, we headed home, the daughter in her car and the husband and I in ours. Our tires were barely touching asphalt when I started yakking… Every frustration which had been masquerading behind that disingenuous nod and smile came spilling out in one long wok wok wok wok wokkkkkk…..

Finally, I took a breath.

The husband seized the opportunity. He reached out, grabbed my hand, and said, “Honey. Stop. It’s over.”

Well, that kind of irked me more. Here I was, trying to spill my frustrated guts in a safe place where the daughter would not hear, and he was giving me the code words for “I don’t want to hear this anymore.”

But then he repeated it, this time in a way that my oddball brain could process. He said, “Let it go. It’s not orange.” And I knew exactly what he was trying to say. Orange, as I’ve said, is my theme color for 2010. It’s my theme color for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that, with God’s provision, it will be the school color for both daughters next year. Simply put, orange is the future.

Very shortly the red and black of high school will be a thing of the past. And let’s face it, no matter how much we sentimentalize high school, it is less than ideal. It’s a difficult time with emotional challenges. Frankly, some parts of high school just need to be brushed, like dust off of the bottom of the feet, and we need to move on...toward the orange.

I have always left open boxes on the shelves of the girls’ closets where they could stockpile mementos. We call them our memory boxes. The girls are allowed to cram anything into those boxes that their hearts desire, but when they overflow...

like this...

It’s time to pull them down and sort them out. At that point, we save only those  mementos deemed valuable enough for preservation. Those, we box… and label… and send up to Innie Paradise. (Well, of course)

It has always been a little comical to me to see what each girl deemed worthy of the save. They save papers and certificates and ticket stubs and all kinds of little trinkets. Miss Whimsy had a goofy little habit of saving favorite hats. One thing was constant: The things deemed valuable always made them smile. I mean… Who saves the worst paper he ever wrote? Or the lowest test grade?

I, on the other hand, have crammed so many red and black memories into this open heart of mine that it is full to overflowing. Most bring a smile, but some... well, they just leave me irked. It’s long past time to do a mommy memory sort and toss and preserve only the memories of value. The rest are just details, not worth the saving, and definitely not orange.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~ Philippians 4:8

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How to Lose 100 Mommy Points in 10 Minutes


Saturday, we returned here to pick up Miss Whimsy’s gown from the dressmaker.

Every time I return to that boutique, I’m reminded of my “Least Likely to be Named Mom of the Year” moment. That would be my first trip to Prom Dress Paradise several years ago:

The Princess Diaries,  Episode I.

As I’ve mentioned, MLK Day in our town 
is prom dress Black Friday. 

 Now, I rarely if ever venture out during that other retail nightmare in November, no matter how glorious the sales. I hate crowds and confusion. So why I decided that it was prudent to set my heart on that day for my first princess dress excursion, I don’t really know.

All I remember is that I felt that I had waited a reasonable amount of time (16 years) and had my heart set on the Great Prom Dress Adventure that day. So bright and early, the ever compliant Practical One and I headed for our long anticipated first visit to Prom Dress Paradise.

I was giddy with anticipation.

And I wasn’t alone. As we approached the door of the boutique, we discovered that a crowd of excited Prom Moms and their princess projects had already begun to assemble. Apparently, the door was still locked.

I looked at my watch.

It was at least five minutes past the official opening so, despite the obvious, I reached up and rattled the door handle. Yep, locked…I glanced at my watch… and then at the other impatient waiters, simultaneously shrugging my shoulders and lifting my eyebrows like a perplexed marionette.

They simultaneously shrugged back. We murmured. 
Then one of us 
(OK, that would be I)
felt the need to step forward and rap on the door.

And we waited. 

Finally, the shop owner came to the door and explained that there was a man, strapped to a bomb, holding a lawyer hostage in the courthouse downtown. Apparently, there was some sort of domestic dispute, and he blamed his lawyer. They had closed all downtown businesses.

FOX and CNN were on the way.

Now, normally, I would have been a little thrilled to have the national media descend on our small town. I’d probably be home, glued to the television, all atwitter. But as I’ve said, this was prom dress Black Friday.  The Prom Moms  had only one question:
Was it nuclear?

Because, folks,  short of an atomic explosion, the prom moms intended to be inside that store on that day. There are certain things for which it’s worth risking life and limb. The prom dress is one of them.

Apparently, the bomb was some sort of homemade device. They were sending the SWAT team and a negotiator to the crime scene.


I could have given them a better plan. I would have suggested they just send the Prom Moms in to get him; we would have taken the guy down in 30 seconds flat. Crisis averted. Film at 11…

But since they never asked me, I was relegated, like the rest of the testy marionettes to the alley behind the boutique. There we waited, a simultaneously shrugging mob. 

Finally, the shop owner tiptoed to the door and whispered to us that we could come in and browse if we stayed away from the front of the store. We cheered. She shushed us. So we secured our princesses in dressing rooms in the back of the building  (in our defense… still technically behind that crime tape outside…) And The Moms commando shopped for dresses in a dimly lit store.

Well, either somebody snitched or they spied a careless Prom Mom serpentining too close to the window because we were busted. Barney Fife closed the shop and sent us all home…

Where we sat, eyes fixed to the TV as the national press carried the story of the redneck strapped to a Yoohoo bomb at the courthouse in a small southern town. I watched until they nabbed that sucker, and I cheered. I hoped they gave him fifty years to life.

But then… I realized that there was still daylight left. We jumped in the car and headed back to Prom Dress Paradise where the shop owner was waiting, confident of our return. I forgave the Redneck Bomber in my heart when we found our princess dress that day.

Every time I return to Prom Dress Paradise, I feel the need to yakkity yak this tale to some willing listener. Today, it was you.

I’m a little sentimental, and I’m sure you’re not surprised, that I picked up my last prom gown.  I have truly enjoyed every princess making moment of the prom years. Nevertheless, I left that boutique with a heart of hopeful anticipation. Although proms will soon be a thing of the past, I will return.

Because this is what they sell on the second floor...

And neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night…


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