Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Normal?!? What's that?

I came to a realization today, one that I should have had a long time ago, I suppose. I realized that I'm truly eccentric, maybe even a little out there. Okay. I'm way out there y'all! Surprisingly, that realization didn't ever enter my mind until today and yet, when it did. It didn't bother me at all.

Why do I say I'm out there, or very eccentric? Where do I begin? I'm a writer, who has turquoise doors to her house, and an impressionist artsy front porch. I go through culls for free vegetables. I have tons of animals. I'm vegetarian, a stay at home mom, I do delayed, selective vaccines. I'm a novice to homeschooling, an Episcopalian in Baptist country, an attachment parent who believes in free-range playtime. Yep, I'm different but who isn't....and why do these things make me so eccentric?

 Well, we could talk about my vegetarian lifestyle. I've been vegetarian for 23+ years now. Yes, twenty three years, and it's normal...completely normal to me that is. But I remember, when I first became vegetarian, my fear was that I would become one of those strange vegetarian people. I wasn't one who was going to eat tofu. Nope, not for me...I was going to stay mainstream, and vegetarian too. But I'd be totally normal. Riiiiiggght!

Here I am twenty three years later and I eat all kinds of unusual things, tofu being one of the more normal ones. And my children eat quite eccentrically as well, they don't know any different.

Then there's the crazy cat lady stereotype. Once years ago, 14 years ago to be exact, I had 5 cats. Today, I have three. The difference was all my cats got along 14 years ago, they were all related, now none of my cats do. Oh and we now also have two dogs and three fish. But the pets I want y'all...are sometimes more numerous than the stars. I want horses,chicken, ducks, goats, hedgehogs, rabbits, and fish. Always fish. Yep, I'm most definitely a crazy animal person...but so are my girls. And from I see and hear so are many of the other members of my extended family. Who knows, perhaps it's genetic.

 And don't get me started on research. I'm a research fiend. I don't follow blindly be it politics, medicine, schools, healthy eating, child rearing or anything else for that matter.

And through the years this research has changed my perspective on many things. When I was younger I would have categorized myself as a conservative. In truth, I was one and still am in some ways. I don't believe in abortion, ever! I don't really believe in hormonal birth control. I'm not a big feminist. I really think feminism has pushed too hard in the wrong direction. That is often expected a woman will work outside the home regardless of whether or not she wants to is wrong. I truly believe families benefit from having a parent stay at home. I know mine have. Don't get me wrong, I don't see anything wrong with a woman working outside the home if she wants to. I don't see anything wrong with a man working inside the home. I just think the push to be all and have all and do all is too much. None of us can do it all... Choices have to be made. Where is the person's priority? That's where the person should be.

Now, if I'm asked to categorize myself politically, I couldn't. I'm quite liberal as well. I believe anyone who can marry and wants to should be able to do so. I'm completely anti-death penalty (or as I like to put it I'm against all killing). I'm not entirely justice system type government even though I used to work in a police dept. I think our judicial system from the police dept standpoint has some major problems, in many, many places that need to be addressed immediately. However, I am all for giving a helping hand to someone in need. And  I believe government programs that help the unfortunate are good and necessary. I'm all for protecting the environment, but not fanatically so.

However, I do recycle. I cloth diapered my girls up until they were 2. (And yes, I was a crunchy attachment mom). By that point Ella Rose was potty trained and Evie Alice moved into disposables. I wish sometimes I'd stuck with cloth for her all the way through perhaps she'd be fully potty trained at 4 if I had. Ella Rose potty trained before 18 months old. Sounds fanatical, huh? It wasn't. She just was ready, and so was I.

I'm an extended breastfeeding mom. Evie Alice still nurses at 4 years old, but slowly is weaning herself and rarely nurses during the day time, now. I bed share and yes, I'm honestly an attachment parent.

However, I'm also for free range play. I send my children outside to play on their own, just like my parents used to do. I let them get dirty and explore without adult supervision. There are boundaries, and they know them. They don't go into the street or into the drainage ditch. But their imaginations and outdoor supplies are the limit on the type of play they pursue while outside. I guess my parenting may seem like just as much of a paradox as my political beliefs.  I don't believe either are paradoxes though. I like to think they balance themselves out.

 And I'd like to think my fanatical research helps me make balanced health decisions as well.  For instance, I'm for vaccines, but don't have any problem with those people who don't vaccinate. I delay and in some cases selectively choose what vaccines my children get. We don't do flu shots. I have to see a real reason to vaccinate, the need for it has to outweigh the danger. We do do MMR, but I've recently decided that although I don't see harm in having the vaccine that I don't believe it truly protects to the extent that many want us to believe it does. There over 9 varieties of measles and we vaccinate against one type and expect that vaccine will protect against all 9. That's ludicrous in my opinion, but what the medical community would like for us to believe and what many people do believe.

I don't push milk products in my home, but don't deny them when asked. I discovered that the dairy industries creation of the food groups was a marketing scheme and what a marketing scheme it was. No grown human needs milk...and yet many people believe we do. Yes, this belief even extends to some doctors.

My research doesn't stop there, it also extends to child development and educational needs (and yes, I'm strange there too).  In fact, research and personal beliefs are exactly what have led me to decide to home school. Yep, I'm one of those strange home school people. Ha ha!! I've actually not started  homeschooling yet, but I've done tons of research and I've discovered that even among the homeschooling community I'm probably on the outer edges.

So why home school? Well, for my family the reason would be that I don't agree with the current trends in education today. Children need to be able to be children. They need play time. They need fine arts. Those are not being provided in schools the way they should. Tests are the main focus now, yet research shows children shouldn't take standardized tests until they finish 3rd grade. Then there's the issue of pushing children to do too much, too quickly in the status quo public schools. Kindergartners are being shamed for not reading quickly enough or proficiently enough when some children simply aren't ready to read at that age.

I don't like those things and so we are going a different route. I want my children to love learning. I want their educations to be very hands on, and positive. And yes, I believe every day activities can be learning ones. So I see positive in even the unschooling or free schooling model of homeschooling. Unschoolers provide little to no formal instruction and let their children learn through experience and according to their interest. While I see value in that, I also believe there are some things my children need to know. So we will do a formal curriculum, but incorporate some unschooling models or even days into our learning as well. I hope, it goes well. I will be doing this with just my older daughter for now.

Okay...so there ya go. I'm out there folks....definitely not the norm. But then again, who is.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Village

Recently I've read a lot about people longing for the village that it takes to raise a child.  Some of the things I've read talk about how women before working used to step in and help each other out. Others talk about how distopian our society has become. Many are nostalgic and long for an era when children ran about until sunset (during the summers) playing. Of course, they came home for supper, but then right back out they went until the street lights came on.

And as I've read each and every one of these articles, I've had to stop myself from wanting to scream so recreate it. The village still exists! It does y'all! I live in it.

At the beginning of our summer, Ella Rose asked me not to plan anything. I balked! I was shocked. What would we do? Wouldn't she get bored. And then, I paused. I contemplated and I sounded the idea off my momma. Give it to her, she urged. My momma went on to tell me, that if Ella Rose was asking for an unscheduled summer at five years old, that said something. And it did. So I gave it to her! We've not done day camps. We've not planned out our days. We've enjoyed these long lazy days of summer, and truthfully I wish they'd last forever. Well, mostly I wish that. I also wish my house could stay cleaner during them, but you can't get all your wishes granted at the same time. So for now, I'll focus on summer and children playing.

We've been particularly blessed in our neighborhood. We have ten children in three houses. All the children are under ten. And they have an absolute ball! Even the smaller ones. My three year old can barely get her breakfast eaten before she's ready to play with her friends. And play she does. ALL.DAY.LONG!  In and out of the houses the children go. Back and forth between the yards.

Snacks are consumed everywhere. Each family contributes a little and I suspect the children graze on an off all day. They eat jello at one home. Then popcorn from a second. Popsicles from a third and so the cycle goes. Each house feels like home, to every child.

Some of the children knock on all the doors. Others, walk in without knocking on any. If any of them are hurt, they simply run for the nearest adult. If a child does something wrong, all the others jump to tell on them. And they have grand adventures. Jumping on  trampolines, throwing rocks in the creek, searching for and capturing tadpoles. Water fights! Creating wade pools in sandboxes. Playing house, or puppy dog. Hanging with friends until the street lights come on.

It's wonderful! I may have only two children, but many days I get to enjoy many, many more. And my girls may only have one sister apiece, but they are living a life where they are two of ten!

As for the Mommas in the neighborhood, we all have our own struggles and schedules. Both the other moms are in school, so I'm the only full time Mommy. But having those friends close by is grand!

Need a cup of sugar? Simply walk next door. Better yet, send a child to get it for you. Out of toilet paper? No worries. A neighbor will have some extra. But that's not all. Each of the three houses contributes to the food in the others and I don't just mean snacks. One Mom has a source for free farmers market food. So when she stops by there she picks up extra for the other two moms. Another mom knows about a shipping/packing vegetable plant that allows the public to collect non-grade A food fo
r free. So she regularly brings back more fresh veggies for all the homes. The third home plans adventures for the children: Easter egg hunts, water balloon fights, ice cream sundae parties, movie nights.

Each home plays a central role in our village. And each person helps to make it what it is. When we need a listening ear, there's a neighbor there. If a dog gets out of the fence. No worries, a neighbor will help round her up. Long day, or busy cleaning house. Send the kids to the neighbors for a bit. Need to run an errand and don't need your helpers tagging along.  Leave your children playing with their friends (at a neighbors) outside in the neighborhood under another mommas watchful eye.

Amazingly, it works. And awesomely our village has extended to our church. All ten children now are attending the same church. Interestingly enough, none of the households send their children to the same schools.

And as I ramble along I can't help but think. This is what I've longed for. This is what a village should look like. And I can't help but be thankful, that God has enabled each of us to play our part in this village.

Villages aren't dead. They exist today. I live in one. Take a good look around. Knock on your neighbors door. Send your kids out to play. You just might discover that you live in a village too.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Creative juices cleaning up a storm

I've been joking with a good friend who is currently 9 months pregnant that I've been nesting for her. And seriously y'all, I could be!  Because I'm definitely not pregnant, but I've been deep cleaning
and de-cluttering my house the way I did before my first born graced us with her presence. So far I've deep cleaned the bathroom, hallway, dining room, & living room. Next up are the kitchen, laundry room, guest room/office and all of the bedrooms. I'm determined everything will be clean and de-cluttered before school begins. Whew! Wish me luck. My girls are determined that their friends need to play inside every day. It's an ongoing battle, but I shall win!

And not only have I been cleaning up a storm, but I've found that my creative juices have been particularly flowing this summer. Not only have I painted both exterior doors aqua and turned the front porch into abstract art, but I've refinished/painted numerous pieces of furniture, the most recent piece of furniture being my paternal grandmother "E"'s buffet. I inherited it when she passed away and have enjoyed it ever since, but  the wear and tear had worn on it. So I decided to grab my acrylic paints and fix it right up. I wasn't really sure how to describe it's refinishing, but my husband was. He said that I white washed it. After he said that, I realized he was right! It's now off white with blue/green streaks throughout. I am really proud of how it has turned out. See below (this was before cleaning and de-cluttering so please ignore the mess underneath)

Other creative projects I've undertaken in the past few days are: baking bread, cutting out a pattern for my youngest daughter's first day of school outfit, recovering the girls art display boards with fabric, and discussing guest writing on a friend's blog!  

She has an impressive blog: Make it Work Molly and had posted a query on Facebook asking if any of us knew Mommas who pack bento lunches. And I do! So we the possibility of my writing about that, bread making, etc. I can hardly wait! I even got my Momma in on the action and she's creating a logo for my new blog! I'll share more about the new blog when I get it up and going.

Speaking of getting up and going, many people have asked me what I plan to do with my time when both girls go to school this fall. I've thrown out answers such as: have a clean house, exercise, substitute teach, etc. In truth, as school approaches this year I am beginning to believe that this school year will reinvigorate my creative side. I am hopeful that I will be able to scrapbook, sew, craft, and even finally update Evie Alice's baby book (it's never been filled out nearly as well as Ella Rose's was). 

It's going to be a great school year, y'all.  I am eagerly anticipating the adventures that await.  Join me won't you?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nostalgic memories and The Fox Theatre

This past weekend Josh and I took our daughters to see the Broadway production of The Little Mermaid at the Fox Theatre. We had a wonderful time. Granted, both girls slept through a large portion of the performance, but they were enthralled by the Fox, overall, and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Ariel. I was a bit skeptical when I read that the production had added three new songs to the story to make the play a bit more about daddies and daughters, than about love, etc. I didn't know how well that would go off with our little Ariel connoisseurs. It was great! I felt tears coming to my eyes during part of the show and I am not one to tear up at movies, plays, or most works of art.

After showing the girls the stars in the sky at the Fox Theatre, and thoroughly enjoying the show, we headed back to my childhood hometown. The girls and I had already spent four days there, and had easily settled back in to North Georgia life. For those who think that there's no difference in north Georgia and south Georgia life you have another think coming. It's quite different! The cultural differences can be hard to explain, but I am blessed to have settled in and learned to function smoothly (or at least semi-functionally) in both.

This particular trip to north GA brought back more memories than most. The first nostalgic memories I had were when Momma and I decided to take the children to The Pocket. The Pocket is so named because it is in a valley surrounded by mountains and is a quiet little state park that consists of a bubbling cold water spring. The children, my nephews, daughters, and friend Jenni's children waded in the cold spring just like my sister, friends, church members, and I used to do. As they were wading, they found small snails attached to rocks. They also discovered and tasted fresh watercress, for the first time.

When I was a small child, small meaning in elementary school, my momma used to take us to a spring on the road behind my elementary school. My sister and I used to wade in that spring and play with the small snails in the water. We also collected watercress for salads and such for our momma. Watching the girls do this brought those memories to the forefront of my mind.

I also found memories of the church picnics that St. Timothy's used to have at The Pocket bubbling up. The last time I attended one of those a former beau, Casey, and I sat by the spring and talked for ages.  He was my first "official" beau (at 14) and if I remember correctly  we last visited when I was 20 or 21. It was on this last visit that we sat with our feet in the stream at The Pocket. We were amazed that the feelings for each other were still there from seven years before and even more surprised that they were just as strong if not stronger. But there were just too many obstacles from outside forces to ever really pursue anything. We belonged to drastically different denominations (he was at the church picnic only because he was visiting his dad and step-mom) and it would have meant committing to a very long distance relationship. The time spent there together, that day, will forever stay in my mind and heart. He's since happily married as have I. We both have children and are pleased with the direction that our lives have taken.  He lives abroad and I in south GA. His dad always keeps me informed when something big happens in his son's life and I'm sure he keeps him informed when something important happens in mine as well.

Another major event that brought back nostalgic memories during this last visit to Calhoun (north GA) centered around the swimming pool at my parents' home. When my sister and I were young, perhaps just a bit older than my daughters are now, my parents offered to build a swimming pool for us IF we would learn to swim. We did, of course, and I remember vividly swimming in the pool in in the middle of winter for the first time. This past winter was particularly cold in north Georgia and the brick retaining wall (30+ years old) fell into the swimming pool. Unfortunately, their homeowners insurance wouldn't cover repairing or replacing the wall and pool, so  after considering all their options my parents have decided to fill in the pool and build a coy pond as well as reverting to the hill that existed in this portion of their back yard, before the swimming pool was installed. Not only did my children enjoy observing the demolition of the pool and pool's deck, the demolition  also had me thinking back to all the adventures, pool parties and other parties we'd had over the years in this portion of the yard.

One such memory, of an event that occurred before the pool was constructed, had  to do with a slip n slide party that my little sister had. She wanted to have a slip n slide party for her birthday. We had the perfect hill for sledding in the winter and well, slip n sliding in the summer, BUT and this is a big BUT, there were Sweet gum trees that had dropped their Sweet gum balls all over the hill. My parents told my sister and me to pick all of these up *before* the slip n slide was placed on the hill. In all of our youthful wisdom, we decided that we didn't need to remove those. We would just slide over the sweet gum balls instead. MISTAKE! We were so scratched up from those old sweet gum balls, I don't think we thought we'd ever heal, but we learned a good lesson from it and in truth had a blast in the process.

The thoughts of days gone by didn't end there, though. On Saturday, I attended a political event for a candidate for Governor of Georgia, Jason Carter.  The event was in the Harris Arts Center in downtown Calhoun. One of my oldest friend's brothers and parents were integral in helping to make this event occur. So as I headed in the door there, I wasn't at all surprised to see Hayden or Mrs. Brooks. There were many people present at the reception that I knew from my childhood in Calhoun, including my childhood friend, Heath.

Heath as I've mentioned in a previous entry on this blog befriended me at the young age of ten, when there were false rumors circulating about me. He truly changed my life, at the darkest hour of my life, and for that I am eternally grateful. As he and I were visiting, at the reception, he introduced me to his wife, Kelly, who I immediately liked, & enjoyed talking to. I was surprised to discover she's a teacher and that they are expecting their first child.

It was the news of the first child that truly sparked my next memories. Heath's sister, Heather,  was a lifesaver and was SO sweet to me after the birth of my first child. The conversations, pointers, information that she shared with me that not everyone magically and immediately falls into deep maternal love with their child at birth soothed my worried, postpartum nerves and helped me through those first three months of motherhood. Don't get me wrong, I love both my daughters tremendously, but the bonds were ones that grew with time, they weren't instantaneous. I wonder sometimes how many other people have found the same to be true.

As Kelly and I sat and talked, I tried to sooth her worried nerves about pregnancy and  I began to imagine what phenomenal parents both she and Heath will be. Thinking about this brought back so many more memories from childhood.

Heath was my dearest friend and even though we got along marvelously, most of the time, there were those disagreements that I think all relationships go through; however, we were young and deeply convicted in our beliefs. We had many drop down drag out arguments in our lives. BUT I was typically right,  of course. Ha ha!

He used to get SO mad at me, and I at him because we strongly both believed that our own perspective was right and the ONLY right perspective. And yet, our friendship forced us to look at the other person's perspective or at least hear it.

And there were arguments or discussions from times in our friendship when I was at fault, and times he was as well. But as all good friendships work,  regardless of how furious we were with each other we had each others back. Even if we were chewing each other out and fussing along the way.

Some of those memories are of my grand plan as a freshman in high school to mess up my grades at the county high school, so my parents would send me back to the city school where I'd gone to school from 5th grade on and was currently taking an early morning class.

My parents decided to move my sister to the county middle school, and me to the county high school right before my freshman year of high school. Heath and I had both decided we were going to take debate in high school and I'd take physical science with my Momma all summer to prepare since debate would fill the time slot allotted for physical science we both would have to take physics our senior year.

But the debate partnership never occurred. My parents decided to move me to the county schools, Heath believed it was my decision and was furious and so in my stupidity and naivety I decided to let my grades tank in an effort to get my parents to return me to the city school.

 I had gotten a progress report from the county and was just finishing my early morning typing class at the city high. I had a ride waiting to take me to the county school to begin another school day when I mentioned my plan to him that day. To say he gave me an earful would be an understatement. He told me that it was a ridiculous plan and that the city schools wouldn't want me back with those grades. He went on to tell me he didn't want to hang out with someone who purposefully destroyed their chances for a future, or something to that effect.  His reaction spurred me into action and I pulled my grades up, I was never a scholar, but must have done okay since I ended up teaching. And no, I never managed to get back to the city school.

I could relay many more "discussions" that we had through the years. Such as his reaction when I totaled my first car, didn't break a thousand on the SAT, or piddly arguments that we had through the years. Oh, how I dreaded hearing, "I'll call this evening and we will talk about ______ later."

Reflecting back on that now, twenty odd years later, I realize that even though we usually ended up furious over whatever we disagreed upon during that phone call;  the time in between the initial argument and the "discussion" that ensued later was so smart! It gave us time to reflect upon our thoughts and calm down before talking further. It was the right way to handle things, plus it really made me get my arguments ready before the conversation. He probably did too. And I can remember clearly wondering how he'd react if I'd just not answer that phone, but I never did. I suspect an in person conversation would have been even more heated. There's no doubt our stubborn natures and intellects were built for debate, and definitely shaped many of the arguments. How I hated those disagreements, but I was certain and still know, I must have been right. ;-P

And as I thought about that stubborn debate intellect, I found myself thinking about my college debate partner, and good friend Jeremy, and how our interactions were similar although no cooling off period was involved in our heated discussions. Those memories make me have to laugh.

With Jeremy, when I would go off on a tizzy about things not functioning the way I thought they should or when I disagreed with Jeremy over the way things were working, he would listen to me carry on, or at least appear to. He wouldn't interrupt me but wait and let me pour forth the full wrath of my fury and then calmly say: "Are you done, yet?" How I dreaded that statement!! I knew what was coming next. It  would be his turn to speak and pour forth his wrath or argument as to why it was the way it was and why he disagreed with me.

So I'd tell him I wasn't done when he asked, just to postpone the inevitable. It never worked. He still made me listen to his side...and I'm glad he did. We didn't always agree, but it was that same determined, stubborn debate perspective that fueled this response.

And in these memories, I find myself wondering if those same tactics be used upon their own children? I suspect they will, and God bless them every one!

 Jeremy is now blessed with a sweet and beautiful four month old daughter. I have no doubt as she goes through childhood or perhaps in her teenage angst she will hear from him, "Are you done, yet?" Heaven help her when she says yes. And I suspect since God has a sense of humor,  that both Jeremy and Heath will have children every bit as stubborn as they are.

God knows both of mine certainly are as (if not more) stubborn as I am. And I'm thankful for my many friendship, partnerships, and competitions with these two Alpha males. I have no doubt  that Jeremy is already a spectacular father, and know that  Heath will be.

As I finish this trip down memory lane,  let me just say that I  pray to God to help me be the kind of mother that my girls need.  I pray they find friends in their lives that are just as willing to listen, counsel, care, argue, fuss at them (when needed) and be there for them just like mine have been and are there for me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"And I mean it, Stanley!"

What a wonderful week this has been so far. I've taken the girls swimming at the pool in Thomasville, we've gone to see a movie "The Croods" at the Summer kid series. The girls have gone to school camp for the second time. And Daisy our beloved dog and I have been playing an interesting game regarding the fence in the back yard.

A little over a year ago, a LARGE pine tree fell in our back yard. It took out a portion of our chain link fence. My husband insisted that he would cut up the pine tree and fix the fence. Now a year later, yes I still have a pine tree in the back yard. The chain saw apparently stopped working as he was cutting up the tree... and no one had found time to fix the back of the fence. But for 11 months Daisy didn't notice that there was a whole in the fence where the tree had bent it. She didn't realize how easy it would be to leave the dog yard and run around free.

BUT, during the past month she has noticed and so we've begun our game. I barricade the hole as best I can. Then she devises ways to get around my barricade. She's dug holes, used her paws to move things, climbed onto cinder blocks to boost her jump out of the fence etc. It's been an interesting game. My barricades have typically worked for a hour or a day, but then Daisy finds a way around them.

First I moved an old bicycle in front of the fence, then our wheel barrow, an old ladder, a cinder block, branches from the old pine tree, lids to our sandboxes, etc....

And finally, I decided that I would take the "extra" portion of the chain link fencing that my husband had left in the corner of the dog yard and wrap it around my barricade. It worked! The extra fencing was the key, but I worried she'd lift that up, so I added partially filled paint cans to hold the fencing down.

As my barricade grew I kept thinking of a children's book that I love. It is entitled And I mean it, Stanley!  In the book a child is building a sculpture out of junk and talking to Stanley as he/she builds the sculpture. Stanley isn't listening or so the child thinks. So he/she keeps telling Stanley about it, but going on to say "Don't you look, don't you even peek." At the end of the story, Stanley a large shaggy dog comes tearing through the fence that he/she is on the other side and knocks down the child's sculpture and covers the child with kisses. The child is thrilled!

So as I've built my barricade I've thought about how Daisy and I are playing a game like the child and Stanley! It truly is a really beautiful thing!


Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer reflections on life and motherhood

It's relatively early evening and quiet in my house. Josh is in bed nursing a sinus infection that he brought back from NYC. The girls both fell asleep right about 8 P.M. Miracle of miracles! Ella Rose did object to heading to bed at a fairly normal (school year bedtime). She said, "But it's not even dark yet?!?!" How, I remember feeling the same way as a child and I'm so thankful it's not the school year, but man did I need those little ones to go to bed.

Don't get me wrong...I love them to pieces and they know that. In fact, the two stories we read tonight were No Matter What and My Little love bug they giggled their way through them as I read it to each of them. Ella Rose said she was my Cherry Pie, and Evie Alice announced she was my watermelon gum! :) I truly enjoyed the message from both that I love them dearly and the no matter what!

Then I settled down and finished reading Mother's Night Out granted I've not had a night out so that I could go see it, but I am eagerly looking forward to seeing it when Amazon gets it on instant video streaming. Yay! And I could so relate to this book. No, not the worrying about salmonella or such, but I could relate to the overwhelming feeling of taking care of it all while my husband is out of town. I'm sure many other women can too...after all it wouldn't be the success it is, if they couldn't.

And I loved how well the book relates that none of us Momma's feel like we've got it together or are doing as good of a job as should! Isn't that the truth. I'll never forget commenting on that to a friend of mine down here in South Georgia and her telling me that none of the other moms including herself had it any more together, that they were just faking it. I don't know about for others, but this book definitely dove deeply into my psyche.

And the whole fiasco involving their night out was so bizarre it could have been real!

I did have a "day out" this week and painted my front porch as a result. No majorly bizarre events occurred as a result of my day out, but I did joke that other Moms go to the grocery, and clean the house when their children are gone. I paint the front porch! I'm sure my husband in trembling in his boots as he thinks about my having 5 hours each day to myself come fall.

Anyway, it's been a wonderful day.  The girls and I visiting a local grocery that is closing down and stocked up on some really, really good deals. We also visited the farmers market, and our free vegetable store.

Which reminds me of another side note. While at the farmers market the girls were pushing for me to buy cucumbers, and cabbage and bell peppers. These are all things they dearly love! Seriously! They will bite into any of them raw and tear leaves off the cabbage just because they feel like eating cabbage at random moments through the day, but I refused. I explained we don't buy those things. Why would we when we can get them for free. When we drove a few yards (maybe 100 yards but probably not that) down the parking lot we saw three "road kill" cabbages that we loaded up to bring home along with our already vast spread of produce and other miscellaneous plunder.

After we got all that unloaded, and had a bit to eat we headed out to our free vegetable source (no, not our back yard) but Southern Valley, and loaded up on a grocery bag full of bell peppers and at least 3-4 bags full of cucumbers, as well as quite a few squash and zucchini.

I sent some over to the neighbors and still have more than enough for our fridge. So needless to say, it's been a great day.

Not only did all that happen successfully, but I got to enjoy a supper with my family. A quiet evening visiting by phone with a good friend in Texas and my best friend, my Momma sharing my favorite quote from the book with them both, "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world." You know...that's true!!!

It does make me realize the importance even more of what I'm doing day to day. I also realized just today that it's been just over two years since I became a fulltime stay at home Momma. If often feels much longer, but just as rewarding as always.

Well, there's a strong storm blowing through our way..so before it decides to visit with my laptop, I'm going say goodnight. And I hope that all Mommas out there realize how important the job is that they are doing. We may not all do it the same, and none of us may be able to live up to the expectations we set for ourselves when it comes to parenting, but our best is more than enough!

Good night!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aprons, meringue, and big floppy hats

As a small child, and even as an older one, I often thought that it would be nice to live in a previous time. One where women were, well more feminine (sipping coffee or tea, wearing aprons to cook, going to teas or church in big floppy hats) and men were more masculine. As I grew I began to recognize how much women have overcome to be where we are today; however, I still have to admit in the back of my head I romanticized a lot of former generations.
      Then when the book The Help  came out I began to realize how different life may have been for women, different than I realized it was anyway. I think  that's when the realization hit me that my momma's generation was more than likely the first one to "really" raise their own children without much "help." Before that, it seems most women had help, so many of my romanticized images wouldn't have fit during those times anyway.
      But with that said, ever since I moved further into the deep south (don't get me wrong I've lived m whole life in the deep south) but ever since I've moved to south Georgia, I've begun to realize that a lot of those things I thought were "by-gones" well, aren't so much.
       For instance, women and their big floppy hats! Shortly after I moved to Moultrie, the ladies at church decided to have a tea. I was thrilled!! I was beside myself with excitement. My first tea. Then they mentioned with hats and gloves. Momma was beside herself. She didn't know such events still occurred. I had no idea where to find a ladies hat, much less gloves. So I began asking around town. What did I discover? Several stores in town still carry those down here today. This all comes back to the forefront of my memory because in a few short months, I'm going to my cousin's wedding and guess what is needed? Nope, not gloves. Thankfully not gloves, because it's going to be in Texas, in the summer!! ARGH! That would beyond hot. But hats...a big floppy decedent hat. Now, I have one, but I wanted something with pizazz and so just this last week I ordered my second lady's hat!  Yes, I had plenty of Easter bonnets as I grew up, as every good southern little girl does, but the ladies hats are something special. And I can hardly wait to wear it! What fun it will be and honestly I'm sure I'll feel just as I did at the Ladies' tea. I'll feel like I'm playing dress up, but what fun it will be to do so!
      Speaking of feeling like I'm playing dress up, when I first became a stay at home mom, I once again found myself longing for days gone by (days long before I was born) when most Mommas stayed home, dropped in on their neighbors for a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet tea and did what good southern ladies do. Visit! But as time has rolled on, I'm glad I live when I do. And yes, I even have a group of ladies that I visit with regularly with a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet tea. And many of us work really hard to keep a nice home, cook meals from scratch, and keep a watchful eye on the children all at the same time. However, just the other day I was out at the farmhouse of one of these friends for her daughter's fifth birthday party. Oh, it was grand! Let me tell you! The children were running around. Chickens were wandering the yard. Mini goats hung out close by. A full well tended garden was present as well...and the men were hanging out around the grill. Not much grilling  got done (on the grill) but the party was progressing nicely.

       Then I wandered inside and was quite surprised to see my friend in an apron as she finished readying the house and yard for the party. I'm not sure whyI was surprised. I had one growing up, at least I think I did. I know I wore many of my  Momma's that were always too large but effective nonetheless. But for some reason I'd never taken the time to get one of my own.
another thing I kind of contributed to an era gone by.
        Okay, that's not entirely true. I have a Christmas one. It's bright green with white polka dots and has red stripes around the sashes. I use it each year for Breakfast with Santa. Yes, that poor apron gets worn once a year. But there was my friend wearing an apron getting ready for the party. And it just fit! It worked great.
        Then this weekend, I was at a ladies' luncheon (catching the deep south theme here, huh? ) and several of us from the women's club had volunteered to serve the meal. Would you believe every other lady serving there had an apron? I'd not worn mine because, well y'all it's not Christmas. So I began to think, an apron makes sense. And I got another one. An everyday apron if you will. It's pink with cloth ruffles and pictures of cupcakes. And I put it on as I tidied the house and fixed supper for our evening Tuesday night picnic. And would you believe my sweet precious daughters complimented me on my apron? It made me so smile.
         You know, I may just yet be that idyllic stereotypical image of a stay at home mom, but one from an era gone by with the clean house and the nice clothes, and supper on the table when my man gets home? Okay...so maybe not. I've got way too much room to achieve that goal, but nonetheless what a smile it brings me as I think about wearing that apron now.
         I found myself smiling apron less too though, this weekend at the ladies' luncheon. One of the things we served was meringue. Several of the younger ladies serving didn't know what it was or how to make it. Man, was it good! It melted in our mouths just the way meringue is supposed to too. And as I ate that meringue topped with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and slivers of mint it made me think of my Momma (the mint especially) and my great-grandmother, Granny. Granny used to pull out her strawberry dishes ( that I now have stashed up in my attic. I may pull those out tomorrow now that I think about it.) every time we visited. She would serve us tomato aspic (which I really don't care for) and meringue which I love!!! The perfect southern ladies dishes. Talking about this makes me think of that ladies tea right after I moved here again...we had to bring a salad (gelled salad) to it. I so tried to make one with pineapple. Just so you know pineapple doesn't like to gel. But that's a story for another day.
        Well, I've definitely babbled this time, but as I've done so I've decided that perhaps the things we think exist only in eras gone by really don't. Perhaps they still occur regularly today. I do so have an itching to try my hand at making meringue now. And I just know those fresh strawberries are in season. So as I make up strawberry jam in the next week or two, with my new apron on no doubt, I'm hoping I can save some to fill up my meringue and that the humidity stays down enough for my meringue to set. Ha ha!!.
         And I feel obliged to admit that the southern traditions  I value most, along with those idiosyncrasies that I've romanticized make me realize that my life as a stay at home mom, really is a lot more like I thought it might have been in days gone by than even I'd suspect. And that pleases me immensely. Both my hat and my new apron (both pictured within this post) are proof enough of that!