Well This Is New And Different

This morning the little guy and I had kind of an interesting conversation on the way to school, and since I really wanted to continue the conversation after school, I decided that once I picked him up this afternoon, we’d run an errand or two and then stop by a frozen yogurt place for a little post-school food and fellowship.

So that’s what we did. When he jumped in the car around 3:30, I told him that we needed to run by the UPS Store, and oh, by the way, I thought it might be fun to try that new yogurt place that’s in the same shopping center.

Make no mistake: I was trying my best to be kicky and casual. But I figured that approach would be better than looking deep in his eyes and saying something like, “I really want to hear about how you’re processing this particular issue. What are your deepest thoughts and feelings? Can we please talk about lots of emotions while I ask you approximately thirty four questions?”

A little bit of earnest goes a long way around here. And really, what we were discussing wasn’t anything difficult; he’d just been unusually candid about one particular topic on the way to school, and, well, we all know that mamas EAT THAT STUFF UP.

So we went to the UPS Store, and then we walked down to the yogurt place. We each picked up a styrofoam cup for our yogurt, and I made a beeline for the cappuccino while Alex walked over to the chocolate. We got to the toppings bar about the same time, and since the toppings were three-deep and the containers were pretty squished together, I asked Alex if he needed any help with scooping since the odds for spilling / slinging / cross-pollinating were pretty strong. He assured me that he had everything under control, and he carefully sprinkled some Oreos over his yogurt while he kept an eye out for his second topping.

I, on the other hand, was firmly and fully committed to the crushed Reese’s peanut butter cups. It was a total no-brainer for me.

Alex (who, by the way, gave me his blessing to share this story – I try to be mindful of his bloggy boundaries, you know) eventually camped out in front of the Twix / cookie dough / Snickers portion of the toppings bar, and after a few seconds of deep contemplation, he picked up the plastic ladle in the cookie dough container. He slowly stirred the pieces around, still unable to fully make up his mind, so I intervened.

“Buddy?” I asked. “Do you want to try the cookie dough, do you think?”

Now of course I meant “try” in the sense of “Would you like to put several pieces of cookie dough on your yogurt and then sample those pieces once we pay and sit down?” But I didn’t really make myself clear, so after I asked Alex the question about trying the cookie dough, he nodded, scooped up a few pieces, replied with, “Oh, yes ma’am” – and then y’all, he put that plastic topping ladle right up to his mouth just like he was standing in our kitchen and about to chow down on a big scoop of peanut butter.

I managed to stop him before he actually ate any of the cookie dough, but oh my word we got so tickled. I bet I laughed for five minutes. I also told the girl who was working behind the counter that she might want to run that ladle under some hot, soapy water before it returned to service in the cookie dough bowl.

And do you know what two words kept running through my mind when I was trying to compose myself?


Yes ma’am. We’ve got it. Clearly we are all kinds of fancy at our house. And even though we really do try to emphasize having good table manners, we might be due for a little tune-up / maintenance call. Or maybe just a reminder that it’s not a good idea to eat the peas straight out of the pot, so to speak.

After we finally sat down, we did end up having the sweetest conversation – one that I’ll hold tight in my heart for a long time. We finished our yogurt, made a quick trip to the bookstore, and then we headed home. Alex had homework to do, and I needed to start supper.

It was around 5 o’clock, I guess, when the doorbell rang. Alex ran to answer it, and when I heard him yell “Thank you!” in the general direction of the driveway, I knew that someone had delivered a package. I could hear Alex trying to pull the box into the foyer – but it was so big that he was struggling a little bit. I couldn’t remember ordering anything that would be that heavy, but over the span of several seconds, something occurred to me.


And sure enough.

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So that was a little bit of a Family Moment. Very surreal. And fun. But make no mistake: deeply surreal.

A half hour or so later, we finished our supper, and I faced the sobering realization that there was no way to avoid a trip to Walmart. Why, you wonder? Well, because apparently the good times never stop and sometimes you can’t put off buying shampoo and razor blades for even one more second.

But in the end, I was so glad that I went to Ye Olde Supercenter. I’m a sucker for a good sunset, and tonight’s was the prettiest one we’ve had so far this spring. The sky was so beautiful, in fact, that I made a quick detour into the Lowe’s parking lot, where I promptly put my car in park and grabbed my phone out of my purse.

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I mean, seriously.

There was a man parked across from me who was also taking pictures, and after a few minutes I turned to him and said, “That sky is so pretty that it’s hard to understand why people would want to live anywhere else.”

He grinned. And then he said, “You look at that sky, and you really don’t need much more than that, do you? Even just a little bit of that – that’ll hold you for awhile, you know?”

And I did know. I do know. Because the God who created that gorgeous sky – He holds.

Today has been such a reminder of that.

And it’s been so sweet to remember.

A Touch Of The Attention Deficit – And A Decorative Dilemma

So this week, huh? My goodness. There’s been way too much sadness packed into the last few days. And last night when I saw the footage from the explosion in Texas, all I could think was Oh, Lord – be near. The combination of everything that’s happened this week is just heavy, you know? Maybe that’s why I watched this clip this morning…because when all else fails, well, DISNEY MUSICAL.

I’m not saying that I want to live in a bubble, but I am saying that the world doesn’t seem quite so harsh if you watch that little section with the basketballs about six times in a row.

I also struggled today with a really stunning inability to pay attention to anything for longer than about four minutes. I would think something along the lines of I think I will write a blog post! – and then I’d type two words, stare at the screen for several minutes, and the next thing I knew I was making a list of BOOKS I WOULD LIKE TO READ and then I stopped doing that because WHAT IS THE NAME OF THAT NEW HANSON SONG and then I got sidetracked 30 seconds into the song because I WONDER IF I HAVE ANY PICTURES OF THAT PLACE IN ECUADOR?

Listen. By the time 1 o’clock rolled around I was just as frazzled as I could be – but I had not accomplished a single thing other than figuring out how to save a document into a folder in Pages. Oh, and I also opened a new pack of IceBreakers.

I’m not gonna lie. It was a low.

This afternoon ended up being much better (I fixed supper! And actually served hot food!), and tonight I had a little a-ha moment about something and am hoping that some of you can help me.

A couple of hours ago I walked into Alex’s room to tell him goodnight, and all of a sudden I realized that his bedroom doesn’t match him anymore. His bedroom is very much a little boy’s room – right down to the curtains that I had made for his nursery – and here’s some news: he is not a little boy anymore. In fact, he and I wear the same size shoe right now (seriously – he got some new Crocs last week, and they’re a 7 men’s / 9 women’s, and HOW EXACTLY DID THAT HAPPEN?).

Anyway, I stood in his room and looked around for a second, and it made me a little sad, really – not because he’s getting older (I seriously think it’s just about the coolest thing ever to see him slowly but surely becoming his own person), but because I want him to have a room that’s a better reflection of who he is and what he likes. And as it is right now, his room is NOT that space. He’s a ten year-old in a five year-old’s room, and I am of a mind to change that just as soon as I can make it happen.

So. Do any of you mamas / aunts / grandmothers have any suggestions for ways to update a boy’s room so that it’s a bit more age appropriate without spending a bunch of money? Keep in mind that I am a certified Stein Mart / TJMaxx / Assorted Discounted Retailers shopper, so I certainly don’t require anything fancy. I’d just like to update the stuff on his bookshelves, put up some new curtains, and maybe swap out his comforters. For approximately $19.99.

Oh, I’m totally kidding. I will spend upwards of $39.99 if necessary.

I promise that I was smiling when I typed that.

But here’s my big question: should I take him shopping with me and try to guide him in the process of picking out something even though he has a strong and pronounced aversion to stores that sell linens? Or should I just pick it all out and re-do his room when he’s not looking?

Also: is there a store I may not know about that carries really good stuff for boys?

And then there’s this option: should I just leave it all as-is until he develops some concern about / care for / general interest in what his room looks like? He is not bothered AT ALL by his room in its current state, but he’s also not bothered by wearing the same pair of basketball shorts for four days in a row. And I do think that, in the end, he would love a room that’s a little more “grown.”

Any ideas?

Sometimes The Memories Have Ridges

Over the last eight years of motherhood I’ve developed a pretty extensive mental list of things I want to pass down to our little guy. The list runs the gamut from the serious (love for God, love for people) to the silly (don’t talk during movies, avoid the salad bar at That Certain Restaurant at all costs).

This summer, for example, we’ve been paying extra attention to manners – holding the door open for people, looking someone in the eye and saying “nice to meet you” – and we’ve also been paying extra attention to the various sound effects you can make with a mouth full of Pop Rocks as well as the fine art of enjoying The Andy Griffith Show. It’s important for a child to understand his heritage, you know?

A few days ago I was running some errands, trying to figure out if an impromptu stop at Home Goods was worth it considering that it’s approximately 463 degrees in most parking lots right now. I decided to give it a go, and while I don’t really know what series of mental gymnastics my brain executed at that moment, I do know that as I turned into my parking space I remembered – for the first time in a sweet forever – how much I used to love Ruffles potato chips and French onion dip when I was a kid.

And if you’re wondering what in the sam hill Home Goods has to do with French onion dip, THAT MAKES TWO OF US.

Anyway, I spent a substantial portion of my Home Goods trip thinking about THE BEST SNACK EVER, and it occurred to me that our little guy had never tried the Ruffles / French onion dip combo. I knew way deep down in my dip-clogged heart that I needed to remedy that situation ASAP.

I mean, it’s the Southern appetizer of the 70s, after all. Children need to know these things.

After Home Goods I ran over to the Walmart to pick up some groceries, and BY DIGGITY I made sure to get a bag of original Ruffles as well as a container of Barber’s Party Dip. When I was growing up we bought Borden’s French Onion dip – I can picture the writing on the label just as clear as day – but Barber’s is the brand we have here in Alabama. AND IT IS TASTY.

Later that afternoon I called Alex to the kitchen.

“Buddy,” I said, “this was my FAVORITE snack when I was your age. And I thought you might like it, too.”

I opened the Ruffles, opened the dip, and then I handed him a chip.

“Go ahead!” I urged. “Try it!”

Granted, I was a smidge overenthusiastic, but it was an exciting moment, people.

He took a bite, and his nose crinkled a little. He started shaking his head back and forth, but then he stopped, like he needed to think. I leaned forward just a tiny bit, anticipating what his response would be. He stared off into space for a few seconds, and then he looked my way and said, “Um. It’s okay.”


Motherhood can be grueling, y’all.

I could tell that the combo wasn’t his favorite, but he was trying to be a good sport. So I grinned and said, “Do you want to take another bite? Want to try it again?”

The little man’s eyes lit up, and he said, “I know! You get a chip and some dip – and let’s take a bite at the same time. It’ll be a memory!”

So we did.

And do you know what?

It was.

What’s something fun from your childhood that you’ve shared with your young’uns lately?


Yesterday Alex and I made sort of an epic-level grocery run to get ready for some stuff we have going on this weekend. We plowed through the aisles in record time – mainly because there’s an eight- year old who can RESPONSIBLY PUSH A CART NOW – and let me tell you what: that cart-pushing business is a game-changer.

Maybe even a milestone.

The boy was such a huge help that I was practically misty-eyed by the time we made it to the check-out, and I have a feeling that it’s a memory I will hold close in my heart forever. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there’s a day when the 60-something version of me looks at the 30-something version of him and says, “Remember that afternoon? That afternoon you were such a big help in Walmart with the Easter groceries? THAT WAS A PRECIOUS TIME.”

Because you know what?

It was.


I have so much on my heart from this past weekend, which was sort of an overwhelming smorgasbord of joy and love and conviction and laughter, but before I can even think about trying to dive into all that, I have to tell y’all something that happened this past Friday.

A few weeks ago the little man’s sweet teacher sent home a couple of different notes about various and sundry craft-related requirements that were coming up. There are few things in life that I despise (YES. I SAID “DESPISE.” BECAUSE I MEAN IT.) more than a craft, what with all that cutting and pinning and gluing and glittering. I don’t mind painting, but if you start to bring in ITEMS THAT MUST BE ASSEMBLED, I’m out. SHUT ‘ER DOWN. Mama’s done.

The first crafty requirement was that A. needed 350 strips of 1 x 6 inch fabric for a rag wreath that his class is making. I am not kidding you when I say that I must have read the rag wreath information sheet at least five times to make sure that I wasn’t seeing the numbers incorrectly. 350? THREE HUNDRED FIFTY? PIECES OF FABRIC? It made me want to throw things, mainly because I can’t stand doing anything that requires lots of measurement or precision. For example, I like to cook because it’s not an exact science, and I’ll bake the occasional cake, but I avoid intricate, multi-step dessert recipes like the plague. I much prefer cranking my car and driving down the hill to the grocery store and buying something from the bakery there. Because if a recipe calls for something like ALTERNATING SPRINKLE COLORS? OR CUTTING 100 MINIATURE MARSHMALLOWS IN HALF? OR PIPING ICING?

Well, the truth of the matter is that I’m probably going to need a nerve pill. And what’s the fun of serving your family a platter of very detailed petit fours if the stress of it all requires you to lie down for several hours afterwards?

Thanksgiving Day I told Sister about how I had to cut out 350 pieces of fabric, and she said, “Oh, I’ll do that for you!” I could not believe my good fortune, and I was so relieved that I wasn’t going to have to, you know, MEASURE THINGS that I didn’t even try to politely decline her kind offer. So we went to the fabric store the next day, and after I twitched my way through the selection of an appropriate Christmas-themed fabric, we went back to the house – where Sister promptly did some math and marked off some stuff and knocked out those 350 strips in all of thirty minutes.

I don’t know when I’ve ever been more grateful.

However, the fabric strips were just the beginning. Because the little man was also going to need a red cape for his role as a Roman solider in the Christmas program. Sister and I actually went back to the fabric store the day after she cut out all the strips (two trips to the fabric store in one week? I am ALL GOOD until, I don’t know, 2013-ish), and I bought a yard of red fleece. I figured fleece was a good choice since I wouldn’t have to actually sew it, and then I took it home and pulled it out of the bag and stared at it. And then it taunted me for the next five days.

This past Wednesday I knew I had to make the cape, already. Dress rehearsal was Thursday, and I couldn’t very well let my little soldier be the only child who wasn’t properly costumed. So I grabbed a cape we already had – I believe it was of the Darth Vader variety – and I spread it out very carefully on top of the fleece fabric. I EVEN PINNED IT, Y’ALL. I used the Darth Vader cape as a template or pattern or whatever you call it for the Roman soldier cape. I cut around it very carefully, sweating bullets every step of the way, and when I finished I was understandably relieved. Pleased, even. The only little question mark in the back of my head was what the length of the cape should be, but since I had a very cloudy memory of watching Julius Caesar that involved some soldier-type people wearing shorter capes, I aimed for something about waist-length. I even used Google to confirm my decision.


Friday morning D and I went to Alex’s school for the big program. We sat exactly where the little man had asked us to sit – so that he would walk right past us on his way up to the stage – and right after the music started, D nudged me and said, “There he is!” I looked to my right, and sure enough, there was my sweet baby boy who’s really not a baby at all anymore and who’s actually the second-tallest young’un in his class and who’s going to be 40 before I know it. I smiled at him, waved just a little bit, and reflected on the passage of time. I may have even hummed “Sunrise, Sunset.” It was a Moment.

About that time I noticed that D’s shoulders were shaking and that he seemed to be having a little trouble regulating his breathing. I looked at him to see what was going on, and y’all, he was SO TICKLED – sort of venturing into the kind of laughter where you start to wheeze a little bit. I couldn’t imagine what in the world had happened, but then D pointed in the direction of our child, and I knew. As soon as I saw his back, I knew.

His cape was a full foot and a half shorter than everyone else’s. All the other boys had on these long, flowing, dramatic red capes, and our precious seven year-old looked like he’d been cast in the lead role of “Little Red Riding Hood.”


D and I were laughing so hard that it felt like our whole row was shaking. And just as I was starting to regain my composure, D leaned over and said, “It really wasn’t so much a cape as it was a CAPELET, really” – which started the shoulder-shaking all over again. It was priceless and perfect and completely fitting given my history of craft-related failure. I’m just as sorry as I can be that our offspring had to bear the burden of his mama’s shortcomings.

The good news is that A had absolutely no idea about the unfortunate length of his cape. He was as enthusiastic a Roman soldier as you’ve ever seen. And when the play was over, he walked off the stage, grinned like crazy, and gave us a confident thumbs up. He had rocked that capelet like nobody’s business.

He’s even been wearing it at home. Apparently it’s easier to stage light saber battles when there’s no risk of your cape getting tangled in the weaponry.

See? I knew exactly what I was doing.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go work some more crafty magic. There are some handmade Christmas ornaments that I need to ruin.

Time’s a wastin’.

What The Ibex And I Have In Common

Last night we were eating supper when I realized that I had COMPLETELY dropped the ball for something that was going on today. The sad part is that this is something that I’ve helped organize for years, and even two days ago I would’ve told you that I could pull off the whole shebang in my sleep. Only apparently that would’ve been a lie. Because I forgot to take care of two critical steps in the process. Which means that I can’t even pull off said activity when awake.

Anyway, after supper I made a phone call so that I could head off any potential early morning confusion, and I figured out a way that I could take care of everything I was supposed to do and still get the little man to school on time. It meant that we were going to have to leave the house pretty early, but that wasn’t a big deal since Alex views any early-morning activity as a WIDE OPEN ADVENTURE FILLED WITH EXCITING POSSIBILITIES.

Much like his mama.

(I can totally see you rolling your eyes at me right now.)

Given my disdain for really early mornings, I decided that I would go to sleep super-early so that I could maybe act like a human when the alarm went off at 5. I know I’ve mentioned it an annoying number of times before, but my preferred schedule (in a world with no responsibilities) would be to stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning and then sleep until 9 or 10. Everysingleday. Why? BECAUSE I AM DEEPLY MATURE.

So at 8:30 last night I got in the bed. My plan was to watch a wee bit of TV, become very, very drowsy, sleep the sleep of angels until the alarm went off at 5, then wake up by stretching very gently and serenading my family with a medley of Disney theme songs. While a bird rested happily on my shoulder.

I dozed off around 9:15 but woke up about 5 minutes later because I heard the TV in the den. Dozed off again – then woke up when D let the dog outside. Tossed and turned and turned and tossed. Finally decided to watch “Top Chef.” Dozed off – then woke up when D let the dog back inside. Dozed off – then woke up because of the aforementioned dog’s INCESSANT PAW LICKING (I’m convinced the dog was wearing a microphone). Didn’t fall asleep until 1 – then woke up at 2 when a certain 7 year-old took a roundabout route to the bathroom that involved turning on about sixteen different lights. Dozed off. Woke up at 2:12 because the 7 year-old couldn’t find his pillow. Got up. Found the pillow ON THE SIDE OF THE BED. Tried to go back to sleep. Except that I was burning up. Got out of bed again and turned down the thermostat. Wondered how a little nighttime peace can be so hard to come by in a house THAT ONLY HAS THREE PEOPLE IN IT.

My alarm went off at 5, and I was just as tickled and delighted as you might imagine after my two or maybe even three and a half hours of sleep. Not a Disney medley in sight. If a bird had been nearby I would have swatted it. I managed to shower and get myself ready, and then I tried with everything in me to be cheerful when I told Alex that it was time for him to get up. He hopped out of bed, put on his clothes, brushed his teeth and was ready to roll in no time at all. I’d promised him a donut for breakfast since we were leaving the house so early, and he was all about it. Happy as a clam. At 6:05 in the morning.

We made it through the Starbucks drive-thru without incident – I would even say happily – but by the time we got to where I needed to be to do the stuff I was supposed to do, I was beyond frustrated. I was frustrated with myself for dropping the ball, and I was frustrated by all the NOT SLEEPING I did last night. Every little thing was just on my nerves, and after Alex was the lucky recipient of a couple of my on-edge responses, he said, “Mama, I feel like you’re being a little hard on me.”

My heart sunk. So I apologized, explained that I was tired and a little frustrated, and Alex said, “Well, Mama, it hurts my feelings when you use your exhausted voice with me and when I’m trying my best and you’re still hard on me.”

Since when did seven year-olds get so articulate? Has he been minoring in counseling when I wasn’t looking?

By that time I was finished with what I needed to do, and as we walked back to the room where we’d left our stuff, I reached for his little hand. He’d have none of it. He crossed his arms and walked behind me. I knew that he was upset – because Mr. Relational typically has two moods: 1) happy and 2) really happy. He doesn’t spend a whole lot of time in the angry zone. So I gave him some space and tried to pull my mood out of the gutter. We walked in silence.

A few minutes later I started to gather our stuff without saying a word. As we were getting ready to walk outside, I remembered a YouTube clip that I watched yesterday. And since I knew it would make him laugh and hopefully lighten his mood, I said, “Hold on, buddy – I want to show you something.”

Oh, my child laughed. He laughed and he laughed and he held his sides and he laughed some more. And as I watched the giggles overtake him, one very sobering thought popped into my head:


It’s the great paradox of motherhood, really: some days you’re the good-natured Disney heroine, and some days you’re a hissing, bleh-ing mess.

Fortunately, the funny video broke the ice and helped us mend our morning. The little man threw his arms around my neck and nuzzled his head into my shoulder. We smiled. And as we were walking out to the parking lot, he grabbed my hand.

Or my hoof, as it were.

Here’s to a better tomorrow.