Sunday, May 30, 2010

Things Pondered

Friday evening was Miss Whimsy's high school graduation.

The Duchess arrived at 6:00.
The commencement began at 8:00
She wanted to get a good seat.

She did.
The chimes began to ring at 8:00 precisely.
They sounded 200 times. 
One chime for each graduate. 
And the graduates began their slow procession.
My heart was full, and
my eyes were too.
Super Dad used his new camcorder to zoom in on our graduate as she made her way across the field.

We got wonderful close up shots of  this group...

Unfortunately, Miss Whimsy entered from the opposite side...

Oh well...

She's the one in the white robe and funny shaped hat.

Look! It's the class of 2010... behind my girls  girl.

Grinning grad.
She found us!

The Duchess believes that every child should be named with an eye to this very moment.
How will it sound, she opines, when the child walks across the commencement platform?

She auditions every potential baby name by proclaiming it slowly, her hand making a majestic arch in front of her face as she says it. This is the reason, she says, that you do not go all Hollywood and start naming your children after  food products. 

Here she is...

Velveeta Mayonnaise Jones...

You probably expected me to be very sentimental about this moment.
Well, I am.
So many thoughts meandered through my mind as we closed this chapter of The Princess Chronicles.
Some things, though, are best kept between a mom and her God.

"...but Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
Luke 2:19

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sister is an Action Verb

Oh, I know that’s contrary to the dictionary, but it’s the truth. “Sister” is no more a noun than “Mother” is. No, being a sister is not merely something that you are; it’s something that you do.

And big sistering has a connotation all of its own,
one which The Practical One understands well.

That’s why she was a bit frustrated last week when logistics threatened to create disappointment in Sister Land. Monday was Senior Honor’s Night, and although she wanted to attend, she was scheduled to work 2 ½ hours away in Macon on both Monday and Tuesday.

I assured her that she wasn’t committing family treason by missing the program. I reminded her of other supportive road trips. I reminded her that she would be home for The Big Event on Friday. But in her world, big sistering outweighed practicality, and she was feeling like a fumbler. So she worked through lunch, borrowed a car, and planned to make 5 hour round trip just to surprise Little Sister on a special night.

I saved her a seat in the auditorium and waited, knowing fully well that I would not enjoy one second of that evening until she was safely next to me. I’m ashamed to admit it, but where traveling daughters are concerned, I am the Great Faithless Wonder. I begin the clock watch about fifteen minutes before any estimated time of arrival. Ten minutes after it, I am convinced that all late daughters are lying in a ditch somewhere...bleeding. And that’s exactly how I phrase it to the husband.

It annoys him.

By the time the program was ready to begin, Big Sister was well beyond the ETA, and I was well convinced of the ditch incident. I fidgeted and clock-watched and door-watched and finally pestered Super Dad to  check on her whereabouts.

He refused. Apparently, he didn’t see the wisdom of sending a message for her to return, while driving… in a hurry…in the rain… to report that she was traveling safely.

Yeah. It sounds kind of dumb to me when you put it like that too…

So I waited without update, eyes glued to the doorway to see which daughter would make the appearance first. It was the graduate. She marched down the steps and gave the grin to Team Whimsy, completely unaware that Super Sister was on the way.

From that point forward, the rest of the parents might have been watching an honor’s program, but I was watching a tennis match. I glanced at the stage… and then turned my entire head to the door… then back to the stage… then to the door… then stage…then door…then stage…

And it was at that moment that I saw Big Sister enter the building. Actually, I didn’t see her. What I  saw was the look on Little Sister’s face when she saw Big Sister enter the building. She blinked her eyes, and then her head followed a figure moving across the back of the auditorium.

Then, she looked out at me with that grin. 

Oh, how I wish I could have gotten the shiny red Kodak to cooperate!

Unfortunately, all of my pictures from the evening look like this.

I blame those energy efficient curly bulbs.

So Big Sister made it to my armpit and smiled proudly whenever her sister’s name was called. I’ll risk losing Mommy Points by saying that Miss Whimsy fared well that night, but the Big Sister Award  went to The Practical One.

And when I said so, Miss Whimsy replied:

Because Little sistering has a connotation all of its own too.

Just ask my big sisters.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Countdown: Operation Graduation

No more classrooms. No more books. No more teachers’ dirty looks….

I finished my last day of teaching, and I have three days to laser point my focus squarely on what really matters, more specifically who really matters.

And that would be Miss Whimsy and her upcoming graduation.

A few more graduation gifts need to be purchased for her male friends. Celebration party plans need to be perfected and brought to fruition. Pictures need to be taken as we set yet more historical markers along Senior Road. Last things...

In my blog absence, I packed the last breakfast basket for that 30 mile country commute. Rushing to get myself ready, I stopped to give my last hug and my last wave from the front porch as she headed out for her last official day of school.

Super Dad stood in the driveway and snapped these shots for me.

Thus redeeming himself from a 13 year old photo flop which occurred when this little girl of ours started kindergarten.

Yes, I've posted this picture before. I posted it again because,'s cute.

In a twist of irony, I “taught her way in” to school and came entirely too close to teaching her out of it. You see, when Miss Whimsy started kindergarten, I decided that it was an appropriate time to hang up my apron and return to the classroom. I thought this prudent because there was an opening for a middle school English teacher – my specialty - in the small Christian School which the girls attended. Surely, I reasoned, I could help with income and tuition while not missing the moments a mere walkway away, right?

Wrong. I missed the most important moment of all.

I spent the last week of my preschool mom era elbow deep in preplanning.  I also failed to remember that my presence in my own classroom on that first day of school was critical. Rather than walk my little peanut head kindergartener to her room and take our traditional first day of school picture with the teacher, I had to delegate that task to Super Dad and report to my own room to help my own students make their own first day of school memories.

So I handed the camera to the dad with careful instructions, and he took on the dual task of photographer AND videographer for the special day, emphasis on the latter. You see, there was, and still is, no toy that Super Dad enjoys any more than his video camera.

And Stephen Speilberg was in his element. We have her getting into the car. We have her getting out of the car. We have the sisters walking hand in hand across the parking lot … and the grand entrance into the classroom… and the yakkity yakking it up with the teachers…

He did remember to snap this picture of her sitting in her first desk and opening her shiny new pencil box to begin her first assignment. It’s a bit blurry because we have the matching video… taken simultaneously.
Well, of course...

And then, we have this.

Notice anything different?

Yes, this would be the traditionasecond day of school picture. Apparently, in the midst of his Oscar making cinematography, what he didn't take was the traditional first day of school picture with the teacher. It was supposed to match the photo that I took of The Practical One wearing the same dress at the same event.

I was planning to frame them together…

Instead, they live in The Box.

The next year, I hung up the teacher bag and put back on the apron.

And so I devote these next three days to making memories. And to making sure that those memories are adequately chronicled in The Princess Diaries with my shiny red Kodak.

Because Super Dad recently replaced is rickety old video camera with a shiny new toy... and I really don’t want to have to call the principal on Saturday morning to stage a day after graduation picture.

Stay tuned...

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Stand Corrected

I said that there was nothing more exhausting than herding cats in a fifth grade classroom on the next-to-the-last week of school.

I was wrong.
Apparently, there is.

And it's herding cats in a fifth grade classroom on the next to the last Friday of school...
After they have spent 45 minutes at an  AR party...

Doing this
Over and over and over and over and over ...

While Octoteacher balances the shiny red Kodak,
six pairs of eyeglasses, a hastily folded paper fan, and The Incredible Traveling Innie.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Role Reversal

Today, seniors with good attendance records were given the choice of either participating in Senior Field Day or staying home from school. We decided to let Miss Whimsy make the decision and weren't really surprised when she (and her friends) decided to take the day for their leisure.

Unfortunately, I still had the cats to herd in that 5th grade classroom. So I headed off to school, coffee mug and breakfast basket to go, and I told her that I would be home around lunchtime.

When I returned to the kitchen...
tired and hungry enough
 to pig out and wreck the diet...
I found this note on the refrigerator.

So I did...

And and I did...

And I found this...

ginormous salad, made almost completely
with veggies from the garden...
Just waiting  for me.

She's a good kid, with such a fun spirit about her.
And she totally gets  me.

Of course, then, she asked if she could meet her friends for lunch instead of spending the day with dear old Mom.

I  felt a just  little buttered up.
But it made me laugh... 
So of course, I let her go.

 Big Sister scored a A in Sisterhood 101 this week too. When my brain is functioning, I'll yak all about it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Herding Cats

Since the middle of last week, I have been fulfilling a 9 day teaching stint in a 5th grade language arts classroom... Yes, that's right, herding cats on the next to the last week of the school year.  I would love to stick around and yak all about it.

Unfortunately, at this point, the only thing that I can think to write is this:

I will not talk in class.

500 times. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Invasion of the Sprout People

We’ve been completely enjoying the fruit of our his gardening labor around this house. We’ve had an abundance of lettuce, spinach, and broccoli so far, and I am tempted daily by budding beauties from Produce Paradise.

Our garden runneth over….

But there is one little glitch.

I’m the one who has to harvest it, and I must do so without an encounter with creatures of the crawling sort… which I know are in there. I know this because when the beds were less dense, I discovered some little green hoppers, and I’m no fool. If the hoppers come, can the crawlers be far behind? No, they can’t.

So I announce my garden arrival by yakking very loudly and kicking the sides of garden boundaries. Then, I take a broom handle and sort of shoosh it in and out of the plant sections, stopping periodically to listen for leaves which keep on dancing after I’ve stopped shoosing. And then, I separate the leaves with that broom handle for further inspection. And then, I pick.


Remind me again why I insisted on this garden…

The system was working fine until last week when I headed out to harvest some spinach and found it completely surrounded by a jungle of leafy green bullies so dense that I thought I was going to need a machete to hack my way through it. It wasn’t bad enough that they were snuffing out my spinach; they had created a broom proof snake haven to boot.

I was miffed.

So I called the husband and tattled on them.

I described the leaves and location, and he said, “I think those are your brussels sprouts.”
As if he had nothing whatsoever to do with them…

OK…technically, he’s right. These are my sprouts… which I requested… because I alone like to eat them. That being the case, it seems to be a disproportionately sized jungle, doesn’t it? Perhaps I should have remembered that I was dealing with a literalist and requested brussels sprout-t-t-t. Singular.

Too late. I will have enough sprouts to feed an army. It’s true. I googled it, and apparently, each one of my 4,726 green bullies will eventually look like this.

I can not possibly eat them all by myself. That’s not good for fellowship.

I can’t freeze them. We aren’t equipped for bulk freezing. We have two freezers, both attached to a refrigerator. And I need room for ice cream. This is southeast Georgia, and I have my priorities…

I can’t even share them. I requested the sprouts for the simple reason that I can rarely find them in the grocery store. And there’s a reason that I can rarely find them in the grocery store; there is no market for them. Again, this is southeast Georgia. On our little piece of the planet, there are three vegetables: okra, butter beans, and sweet corn.

Only the oddballs eat brussels sprouts. I can’t even give them away. I suddenly had a vision of myself, standing out in front of Walmart, holding up a sign next to the “Free Kittens” people.

So my only recourse is to use The Amazing Power of my blog to recruit some more sprout people. I shall begin today with a little tutorial and recipe for Grilled Brussels Sprouts and Vidalias.

So here we go:

* Start with fresh  sprouts of a uniform size.
(Please do not use frozen sprouts and blame  me for tastelessness, people….)

* Trim the yukky leaves and cut off the stems.

* Cut an (X) in the stems…

Actually, I don’t know why you should do this.
I only know that JUNE does this, and therefore I do it too.

*Steam sprouts for 3 minutes (on the stove not in the microwave... and please, do not boil … see step #1 above)

While they are steaming, mix together
*2 tablespoons of olive oil
*1 teaspoon of garlic powder
*1 teaspoon of  Weber's Kick'N Chicken seasoning.

Because that's what I have around my house. Probably any seasoning would be just as good. Dink with this at your leisure.

* Coat the steamed sprouts in the olive oil.
* When cool, alternate on skewers, with chunks of Vidalia onions  (Again, see step # 1 above)

 Grill for 5 minutes on each side 

And they should look like this. Really.... they should. Then toss both veggies in the remaining olive oil and serve.

Seriously… delicious.

Now, can I interest anyone in some brussels sprouts?

Linking this to Foodie Friday again... although I'm really late to the party. And if you're conspicuously late to a party, it's not all that wise to be the one standing there holding brussels sprouts, is it?
 It's tough being back to work this week.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pine Knoll

So I opened Southern Inspiration, and look what I discovered.  I have been passed a blog award!

It made me giggle. But then, in my oddball brain, I began to worry… Exactly to WHOM should I yak it forward?? I have several blogs that have become a part of my reading routine, and I feel a sense of Polish loyalty to them all.

But as I was sipping and meandering, I came across a new blog that I know will become a favorite. I want to introduce it this morning.

It’s called Lilac Lane Cottage, and I clicked my way there because of that name. I have a name obsession about which I will yak at a later time.

It is the story of a recently purchased country cottage… down a lilac lane no less… in Kansas. The story is just unfolding so I’ll get to read every exciting detail of the cottage journey. I am already enchanted by it all!

Because this couple is living my dream.

I long to restore an old place in the country. This has been my dream for years, but as my girls got older (and so did I), it has become the Incredible Shrinking Fantasy… going from an old plantation house to an old Victorian to an old farmhouse. It currently resides in a little old cottage…

At the rate I’m going, it will end up a play house in the back yard.

My imaginary cottage even has a name. It’s called Pine Knoll, aptly named for the piece of paradise which guarded the playground at my elementary school. It was a wonderful little enchanted forest into which we were forbidden to explore. We could play in any schoolyard cranny, but we were not allowed to meander into Pine Knoll.

This, of course, made ME want to meander there all the more.

Actually, I grew up thinking that this pine tree paradise was named “Pienole”. I wasn’t sure what a Pienole was… I thought it was an old Indian word or something. I remained completely blond on the subject for decades, and then

I was browsing through a scrapbook and saw a picture captioned “The View from Pine Knoll.”

Pine Knoll? It’s Pine Knoll? I thought it was absolutely poetic and have longed for a Pine Knoll of my own ever since. Living in southeast Georgia, we don’t have much in the way of creative topography. But a knoll, we can manage. And the pines? Oh please...

So as we travel down the adventure roads, I keep an eagle eye out for my Pine Knoll. Of course, on Debbie Drive, you don’t have to actually see Pine Knoll to discover it. If I spy a windy little path sneaking off into the woods, I proclaim to the car, “I’ll bet there’s a Pine Knoll back in there.”

If I spy a tumbled down old house, I dub it.

Look! It’s Pine Knoll.

Of course, the husband rules from the left side of the brain. He likes to carry that travel mug of cold water down my adventure roads and pour it all over my imagination.

He will say, “Deb-or-ah, there are no pines… and there is no knoll.”
And I reply, “I shall haul in some dirt. And I shall plant a tree. It’s not rocket science Mr. Party Pooper.”

You see, this is the desire of my heart… emphasis on the possessive pronoun there.  It is not shared by the rest of the family. The other three are perfectly content here in Piney Stick Flats, and they do not feel the old house love.

 Recently, we toured a minimally restored Victorian. I was delighted. After yakking my way through room after room, I dropped into the car seat and started,  “Now that’s my dream…”

And The Practical One, finished  “…and our nightmare.”

She inherited her smarty pants from her father.

But as the chicks leave the nest, I am left with only the husband to win over. I keep telling him to get aboard the dream train. He gives me a long suffering smile and assures me that he indeed prays about my Pine Knoll. If he says he does, I believe him.

But I am positive that each prayer ends with something like this: And Father, you know my Debbie and the desires of her heart. Please change them. Amen.

I’ll try to find some pictures to illustrate this post. In the meantime, just detour off Debbie Drive down Lilac Lane. And pretend that you see pine trees.

And a little knoll.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday Morning Bloomadoodle

I wasn’t going to post this morning, but when I stopped by Southern Inspiration for her Friday Fives, I discovered that her questions were all about fresh flowers. So between that and one special request to show my bucket bouquets, I decided to whip out the bloggadoodle for a little electronic illustration.

I’m sure it seems a bit odd that a man who is so tight  that he washes out his baggies brings fresh flowers...  to a woman who hoards old napkins and uses a baby shoe box to store her recipes.

 It is.

But he brings them because he knows that I love them. And it all started that long ago day in Athens, Georgia.….

I have loved flowers from him ever since.

To be specific, I neither require nor admire an overpriced floral arrangement. Nope.
What I really like is just a bunch of flowers.

And yes, I know that most thrifters extol the virtues of the potted plant. I know this because every time I mention my love of fresh flowers, I get at least one well meaning admonition about money better spent on green plants…

  which last….

They do?

That’s the perk of a bunch of flowers. No matter how beautiful they are coming in …

They all look the same way going out.

And no one scolds you when they do.

I have that picture to bloggadoodle this morning for a simple reason.  Every time the husband brings me some flowers,  I hoard a few... which I like to repurpose like the clever little thrifter that I am.

 I’ll yak about this at a later time.

Because this bloggadoodle is about my bucket of flowers.

Which I turned into four arrangements.

(You thought I would never get here, didn't you?)

One a little traditional…

One a bit more practical

And another just a tad whimsical

And the rest, I just stuck in a bucket.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Bucket List

The husband is a collector of buckets. He  uses them to tidy his lawn. He uses them to tidy his garden shed. He uses them to tidy his garage. He lines them up to hold everything from charcoal to the kitty litter that he spreads over leaks from the girls' clunkity old car.

 Aptly named "Flo"

Yes, indeed. Mr. Clean  is also Mr. Bucket.  That's why buckets were the container of choice for last week's  Great Pine Cone Adventure

 Last night, he made a rare pit stop in the middle of his business travel. It was a treat to find his car in the garage when I returned home from Wednesdays with the Duchess.  It was even a bigger treat when I opened the door, and I walked smack into this.

A bucket full of flowers. 

I saw him sitting in the den and called out the obvious (I hoped) question. "Is this for ME?" He never moved. He didn't even glance in my direction. He just chomped on his crackers and wore the smirk.
Finally he said, "Well, you did give me that lovely bucket of pine cones..." And he sat there... very pleased with himself.

I was very pleased with him too. I even resisted the urge to make sure they were wholesale.
 I'm thankful for that man.

So this morning, my next thing is to arrange all of these...

... and spread the love all over the house. 

I love flowers. 

And then, my next thing will be to head to the store.

Because I have been thinking this morning.... I'm always thinking...
If a bucket of pine cones can turn into a bucket of flowers, it might be a very good idea to refill his bucket of this:

And I'll email him the picture...
Is anyone following me here?
Mr. Bucket. Buckets of Fun.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Morton's Salt Girl

Miss Whimsy wears glasses.

Actually, she wears contacts, but she has glasses.

Half inch coke bottle lenses in stylish black frames.

She’s as blind as a bat.

And I am ashamed to admit (but I will of course) that she needed those glasses long before she actually got them. I received a big fat “F” on that particular Mommy Test. I thought that she was faking.

Now, in my defense, The Whimsy was a well known faker. We had to keep a suspicious eye on any headache, tummy ache, or fit of dizziness for the ulterior motive. That was the first reason that I suspected fraud. The second was timing. This eyesight lamentation appeared to be in direct response to her  friend's new pair of eyeglasses.

 A beautiful pair… with little kittens on the side… or so it was reported to me. Repeatedly.

So I figured that the issue at hand was not at all about the eye sight but about the fashion statement.

I told her to sit near the chalkboard and squint.

Some months later, our local Service League volunteered to do eye examinations at our school, and Miss Whimsy was delighted to report that she was given “the note.” Her teacher phoned that evening, and she said, "Now Debbie, I think you should take her to the eye doctor, but you should probably know that she was handing out high fives as she emerged from the examination room. I have a strong hunch that she failed that test deliberately."

So I took her to the ophthalmologist, and I whispered to him that what we had was a  possible case of  fashion fraud of the copycat kind. He assured me that they had ways of sorting truth from fiction.

And they did. Miss Whimsy, he reported, was in dire need of spectacles.

At the end of the examination, the doctor looked at me and laughed. “I’ve been doing this for many years,” he said, “and I have never seen a kid so excited about a pair of eyeglasses.”

So we picked out a pair... with little kittens on the side. She was delighted.

Well, the newness eventually wore off. She has been wearing contacts for years, but periodically, she sports the specs, more for the fashion statement than anything else.

Now, you might be wondering what set me off on my ramble this morning...

Well, it's this:

Today was our first rainy school day since Easter, and it's kind of miserable out there. But when Miss Whimsy opened those blind eyes, the first thing that she said was, “Is that rain?” And she hopped out of bed, giddy with excitement. She showered and dressed and skipped down the stairs with a big goofy grin and twinkling eyes.

As we closed the door on our goodbyes, Super Dad just shook his head and chuckled. And he said, “I never saw a kid so excited about a pair of eye glasses.”

I giggled back because I knew exactly what he meant.

Only today, it was a new pair of these:

Rain boots...with little whales on the side.

And that's one of the 4,726 reasons that I love the kid. When life gives her showers, she puts on her happy boots and dances in the rain.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Devil hid my hair crack

Super Dad and I have endeavored for years to make our Sunday mornings peaceful and pleasant ones. We’ve become pretty good at it, too. Sunday is important around here, and it’s just not the day for manic morning stress.

So I was frustrated yesterday morning when an event threatened ever so briefly to steal my joy. It happened, as it usually does, when I was already just a little bit antsy. You see, we had a salad luncheon scheduled at the church. Bringing a food offering for the Baptist pot luck is a source of stress for me which I will have to yak about at a later time.

And the devil knows this. Therefore, it’s often on Baptist Pot Luck Sunday that he amps up his morning mischief. Generally, he does this in one of two ways. Either he sneaks into my closet unawares and does a little creative clothes alteration, or he messes with my hair style.

Yesterday, it was both.

It wasn’t bad enough that he took the black skirt that I was planning to wear and tossed it into the dirty laundry… Or that he had secretly stitched in the side seams on the next six things that I tried on…

He also hid my Hair Crack.

Hair Crack is what I call a wonderful little product which I am glad to endorse this morning.

It looks like this:

But when you pour a little in the palm of the hands, it looks like this.

And when you dust a little bit of it onto the head… and then work it into the roots, it makes even forty- something hair stand at happy attention… all day long. I highly recommend it, but I must warn you: Once you have tried it, you too will become a crack head.

Because Hair Crack is the only sure solution that I know to the problem of hormone hair. By this, I’m referring to those days when the entire texture of our hair changes. It's hormones which make usually well behaved strands of hair become completely limp and laminate themselves to the side of the head. It's hormones which periodically make Hillary Clinton morph into Madeleine Albright. (Someone needs to tell Hillary about Hair Crack. I have considered sending her some myself, but I’m pretty sure that it is unwise to send white crystallized substances to public figures via the U. S. Postal Service.)

I know that hormones are to blame for these things for two reasons:

1. The symptoms are cyclical
2. At 48, hormones are to blame for everything.

And they were to blame for one third of my stress yesterday morning. Because in addition to the Potluck and Wardrobe anxiety, I was staring at a serious case of hormone hair. So I reached for the miracle cure...

And it was missing.

Someone had obviously moved it. I titched. Then I searched the entire vanity area. I opened every drawer. I got down on my knees and searched the floor… I got back up and searched the bathroom shelves. I explored the other three vanity areas in my house. Nothing.

Deciding that VERA must be to blame, I dumped the entire contents of my both my zippered tote and cosmetic bag onto the bed.


 I pictured myself walking into church with my Baptist Potluck Salad, all decked out with ill- fitting clothes and hormone hair and decided that I should keep on looking.

Finally, I found it.

And you’ll never guess where…


In the bottom of the incredible traveling innie.
Well, of course.


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