Tales from the crib

I just got home a little bit ago from hanging out with My Boys. Spending time with them always proves to show me the full range of my emotions. And how many of them I can actually emote within a 5 minute span.

Let’s just say the boys are almost 2 and almost 5 and they are really good at it. Their mama and I have said it once, and we’ll say it again…they are lucky they are the cutest children who have ever lived.

The other day W was sitting at the table eating a little snack and decided that it would the most fun ever to throw his food onto the floor. I lovingly reminded him, “Buddy, we eat our food, and we don’t throw food on the floor.” I mean sure you look like a little curly, blonde-haired angel dropped straight from Heaven with cuteness for days.

But we have rules, man.

So, he was clearly informed that if he threw it down again, he was going to go to the time-out chair. Well, shock of all shocks, he threw it down again. Despite the fact that he cocked his head to the side and let loose a smile that stretched from ear to ear (his signature “I know that was wrong, but look how adorable I am” move), off we went to time-out. Oh the tears and drama as I walked away and told him to stay put because he was in trouble.

We follow directions around here, mister.

Then my heart crumbled into a million pieces as he just sat there. Bottom lip quivering. A single tear rolling down his face. The yells of “sa-wee, Nen Nen, sa-wee!” rang out as I walked around the corner to take the clothes out of the dryer.

As I unloaded, I wondered if I should have just let it slide. It’s just food on the floor for crying out loud. He probably would have gotten down on all fours like a puppy dog and eaten it all up if I had suggested the idea. Where do I draw the line between being the crazy babysitter who is fun and silly—-singing “Home on the Range” in a british accent and dancing in the kitchen—-to the diciplinarian who wants to make sure they mind me on the little things. That way, when the big things like crossing the street come along they don’t get squished like a bug, as B would say.

I kept battling my conscience, feeling terrible that I had hurt the little man’s feelings. I just knew he was around the corner crying. Probably wondering where is Jen Jen? why did she leave me? doesn’t she love me? About that time, I realized that I actually heard no crying at all.

I came around the corner to find him sitting his the time-out rocking chair. Reading a magazine.

He was real torn up about the whole thing, really.

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The Popster

He lived to be 93 years old. I think I always realized that living that long was amazing, but when you spend 20 years worth of birthdays, holidays, and everydays with a person, you really don’t think all that much about how old he is. All those years I was concerned with issues such as whether or not he was going to look over at me with his little crooked smile and point to the fridgerator where they kept the ice cream sandwiches.

The code for: Go get you a treat, Babe.

Or how funny it was that everytime we ever gathered to eat a meal, my grandmother would fix his plate full of the phenomenon that is southern cooking, and he would just hang his head as he proceeded to tell her that he “DIDN’T NEED ALL THAT FOOD, MOTHER.” And then he’d eat the whole plate. And be looking for dessert shortly thereafter.

Yes, the man was a lover of all things sweet, and he asked for a diet coke on his death bed. I’m telling you, he was a man of my own heart.

So no, I didn’t think about his age all that much. I just knew he was my daddy’s daddy, and that he had no greater joy than that of experiencing life with his son’s son and daughter.

Pop was consistent, calm, and content—-in his life, his beliefs, and his faith. He had funny little phrases and a wagon full of chracteristic little quirks about him that you could always count on. He was so full of subtle, stable love and humor that when I think about him now my heart could just sprout little wings and fly right up to Heaven.

Whenever anyone in our family saw Pop, he always started the encounter with the same quick and precious greeting. “Hey, Babe,” he would say all cute and sweet. Even when he was in the hospital the weeks before he died and was barely saying much, he busted out the famous heybabe as I walked up to his bedside during an visit one evening. I will never forget that. It just somehow summed up everything I loved about him.

The Popster, as we affectionately called him from time to time, didn’t live the fast pace existence of today—-where every moment has a tendancy to be scheduled, including church and family.

To him, those aspects of life were always put first. To him, those aspects of life were like breathing. Life didn’t mean anything without them.

He ate three home-cooked meals a day, most prepared by his devoted and fiery bride of 61 years (although he had a way in the kitchen and made the best pecan pie as well as mean egg sandwich). He had one phone line and it was plugged into the wall. The most technological he ever got was a battery operated clock I gave him one Christmas. Amazingly, it also told the temperature in the room AND doubled as a flashlight. We had to finally just settle on realizing that we would NEVER be able to know HOW THEY DID THAT. Each time I came over after he recieved the Best Gift Ever, he always made some comment about it, sometimes handing it to me to fix because he had pushed a wrong button or because the time was slightly off.

It was like our thing.

After he died, it was really important to me to make sure that silly old clock stayed with me. I keep it in a safe place now, and when I look at it, I am reminded that while his time here on earth has stopped, his 93 year-old body has been exhanged for a timeless one. But I’ll bet his eyes still have that signature twinkle.

No, he didn’t live in the same crazy world that I do, but he loved the same God. He put first the most important gifts that God gives us, and his faith is one that will forever inspire and calmly remind me of the definition of true devotion.

Happy Birthday, Pop. I love you.

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Taking the long way around

I am currently road-trippin which has been more fun than a show dog could jump over. I drove back to Gradville on Thursday, and then went with Meg on a 12 hour (round trip) journey to North Carolina to pick up her new puppy, Laila. It was quite the adventure complete with lots of laughs, singing, and conversation about important world news like Isaiah Washington getting fired from Grey’s.

I didn’t realize when we began our trek that we would be driving towards what I now refer to as “WHY? HOW? WHY?, 2007.” The foster parent to the puppy had, and I kid you not my friends, 20+ dogs running around in and out of her house. I have never in all my years seen that many dogs in one designated area. I knew we were in trouble when we got out of the car and a parade of pups ran toward us like we had marinated our clothes in beef flavoring the night before. I think if you lined up all the dogs head to tail they could have stretched the distance from the Carolinas to Georgia. Once we got inside, Viv (the self-proclaimed ‘Critter Sitter’) told me I was welcome to have a seat. On the couch. Where 3 dogs (2 of which I had seen just rolling in the dirt and one whom I noticed had mange-like characteristics) were already stretched out.

Um, I’m fine really. Cue awkward laugh.

And in all seriousness, Crazy Dog-lovin Viv was as sweet as she could possibly be. She even offered me an ice-cold liquid refreshment in the form of a Diet Coke. In addition to that, she named the litter of puppies, from which sweet Laila came, after contestants on this season’s Dancing With The Stars. Hence siblings Joey, Apollo, and Cheryl. The sweet meter continues to rise as one realizes that she is obviously a great humanitarian–rescuing these canines and finding people to adopt them. Unfortunately, the only thing going through my mind was NO MA’AM. TOO MANY DOGS IN TOO SMALL AN AREA. MUST RETREAT.

So, Meg and I stole WHY? HOW? WHY? glances at each other until we were on the road again, puppy in tow. As we pulled away trying not to touch anything until we could GET TO THE NEAREST GAS STATION to wash our hands, I felt like things were beginning to look up. About that time, Laila realized riding in the car did not really agree with her and proceeded to toss her cookies.

Sign up now to go with us on our next road trip, folks!

Today has been much more low key and has involved much less canine craziness. And by less, I mean none. I have been home alone in my lovely apartment, and in true 07/07/07 good fortune, I awoke just in time to catch the first episode of an America’s Next Top Model marathon. Which I proceeded to lay and bed and watch for the rest of the day. Tomorrow I will depart for the 2nd leg of my road trip, as I am off to visit my dear and precious best friend, Lindsay. Homegirl is starting her first year of teaching in August, and my services are currently needed for important matters such as cutting, creating, and coloring. We may even sneak in a mini road trip ourselves to go see Bri and her new house.

Oh, be still my heart at the all the memories being made 🙂

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This and that

A little randomness because we all have our talents, and that is definitely one of mine.

1) Well, I lived to tell about Crazy Beach Extravaganza, 2007. It was definitely an experience to behold. We had tons of fun in the sun accompanied by non-stop protection from drowning, a continuous ‘Cars’ loop playing on the TV, and plenty of tears (theirs and a few of my own). Ashley and I did not get the memo that a family beach trip with toddlers was supposed to be a relaxing time, so we spent the majority of the week figuring out clever ways to keep the boys entertained and alive. In the end, I did not vow to never have children, but I did come to terms with the fact that even if I was married, I am not ready for babes of my own at this point. For now I will stick with my little boys who are way above average in the cuteness department—-the ones I can kiss goodbye at the end of the night (or week at the beach) and get in my car and drive home. Indeed, when I got in my car childless and tanned, my happiness could not be measured.

2) If you are reading this, then you are visiting my pretty new blog design! I would like to say that the first thing I did upon returning home was unload, upack, and organize. I would also like to say that I am a singer and a brain surgeon. But, I have a good grasp on my limitations as a person and they definitely include (among many others) singing, medical procedures, and organizational tendancies. So, in lieu of doing anything productive when I walked in the door from my trip, I sat down at the computer to check my email. Three hours later, I had a brand new blog design! The whole thing is really a blur. But, in the end I came out with this lovely page, and I am very happy.

And I really feel like today is the day I will unpack the suitcase.

3) Looking at my phone yesterday and realizing it was JULY 1 sent me into an unexpected panic. I think it is because now I can use the phrase, “I go back to The Gradschool next month.” Oh, the sadness of that sentence. Realizing that it is now July brings up a whole list of to-do’s that need to be checked off in order to be ready for the Fall.

Boo boo boo.

That is just my very mature and personal opinion, of course. And really, I am excited to go back to Gradville…I am just not ready to dive back into the wonderful world of learning at the present time.

4) During the two beach trips with the boys, there has been a slot of time each day that I have absolutely coveted…naptime. I have strong emotional ties to naptime for 2 reasons. The first reason is because NOT having a nap made for complete craziness in the head. And the boys were even worse. In fact, the first time we allowed Little Boy (4) to skip his nap, this is what ensued around 5:00 that night when I was trying to bathe him so we could go out to eat…

LB (already in tears because he did not want to take a bath in the first place): DON’T LOOK AT ME!

Me (trying to figure out how not to look at him while bathing him): Baby, I KNOW you don’t want to take a bath, but LOOK! we can do it SO fast and get right out out of this stinky tub, and THEN we are going to go to the pier, and OH! they have a playground there…(talking loudly over the uncontrollable sobbing)…um….do you want some candy!? I’ll give you candy!! Ok, let’s wash the soap out of your hair and then we’ll get the candy!

LB: IT’S IN MY EYES! MY EYES!

I rush to pour clean water from the faucet over the poor lad’s face and eyes (which, by the way, really do not have soap in them).

LB: NO! NOT THAT WATER! DON’T USE THAT WATER (sob! sob! sob!). USE THE WATER RIGHT HERE! (reaches out, eyes closed like a blind man, and touches the bath water).

Me (thinking that is odd since the bath water is laden with soap, but bound and determined to GET THIS DONE): Ok, here we go, here is the water!

LB (blinking eyes open): NO, NOT THAT WATER! 

(I believe this was the exact moment I realized I was not ready for children).

So, If you are confused and stressed out from that conversation with the exhausted 4 year-old, then you now realize why naptime was MANDATORY from that day forward.

The second reason (yes, still on this subject, and actually not even to the main point yet) I held naptime so close to my heart was because it was my reading time. I would get the little rugrats to sleep, sit down on the couch with a diet coke and some lunch, and spend the next 2 hours reading in heavenly peace.

Favorite Books of the Summer so far:

1) The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares

2) Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner

5) I mentioned in a previous post that I am going to be a bridesmaid for a very dear friend that is getting married next June. Well, seeing as we have already established that it is July, that means there is less than one year until their wedding and my debut as a bridesmaid. Girls, we all know what this means…the dreaded bridesmaid dress. The thing is, I am totally not worried about the dress itself because my beautiful and stylish friend, Brittany the Bride, is sure to have some knockout dresses. She’s cute like that. In fact, I am sure the whole wedding will be an affair to remember due to it’s class and elegance.

My concern is ME…in the sure-to-be faboulous dress. Time to get into shape, my friends. You heard it here first.

I like to call this mission: Hot Bridesmaid, 2008. Stay tuned.

*****

Ok, well, I think that is about all the randomness one blog entry can take. Time to go start marking items off the to-do list. I think I’ll start with the unpacking. 🙂  

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Here we go again

Back in January I got a frantic message from the mama of My Boys asking me to call her back AS SOON as I got her message because she had something VERY important she needed to ask me. Those little boys definitely get the need for the drama honest. So anyway, being the avid caller-backer that I am, I went downstairs to get a Diet Coke and a snack.

First things first.

Once I returned, I grabbed my cell phone and called her back. By this time, I was intrigued to know more about the VERY important matter at hand. My anticipation grew until she answered the phone and we embarked on a very exciting conversation that ended with plans for A BEACH TRIP! WE’RE GOING TO THE BEACH! (emphasis mine).

So the beach trip, which includes their whole family (totalling 16 people, 7 of which are children I will be partially responsible for) was written in the planner for the last week of June. And I won’t lie, I drew a smiley face beside it. And a small beach scene.

So all these months have passed and tomorrow is the big day. Crazy Beach Extravaganza, 2007. And while I am excited about this trip, I am not naive to think it is going to be a relaxing week of sleeping in and sun and reading my book with my toes in the sand while the children play quietly. Those dreams were shattered last year during Crazy Beach Extravaganza, 2006. Last year, Ashley (Baby Mama) called on Monday (I had planned to drive down Thursday to babysit all the kids the last night so the adults could have a child-free evening) and said, “Well hey there, Miss Jenna…what are you up to?”

Babysitter Code: Can you bump your arrival time up a 3-4 days? The children have gone crazy and and we need you…NOW. Bring wine.

So, while I know that this week isn’t going to be like going to the beach with my own family–where the youngest person is 23, and that person is me–I am up for the challenge. The boys are at the cutest ages and make everything so funny. “Oh my gosh, Jen Jen! Seagallies!” Plus, we are old pros since we already have one beach trip under belts (or bathing suit cover ups, as the case may be).

By next week at this time I am sure I will be pulling my hair out and vowing not to have children (kidding, Mama, kidding), but as for now, let the games begin! Ya’ll have a great week 🙂

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Vital lesson from college

I failed to mention in my last post as I lavished in my bridesmaidness, that bride-to-be Bri was actually in town visiting this week. You see, she is marrying one of my friends from high school who has now become one of my best friends from college.

ALERT TO ALL COLLEGE GIRLS: Make sure at least one of your best friends dates and marries someone from your hometown.

Why you ask? Because, if you go to college in your hometown and “meet your bridesmaids,” it is a HUGE added bonus if any or all of them become eternally attached to someone who is deeply rooted in aforementioned hometown. Indeed, I am so thankful and lucky that B met and fell in love with this amazing guy because 1) E. is indeed amazing and entirely hilarious and 2) she will forever be tied to (and may potentially reside in) my hometown.

And if being able to hang out with B and E wasn’t exciting enough, Lin was also in town this week. She is not engaged to a hometown boy, but she does have strong emotional ties to a very good hair stylist whom she could not part with after we graduated. We all know that finding a good hairdresser wins a silver medal in the race to someone’s heart (after finding a soul-mate, of course).

So we had a mini one-year college reunion. It was a great week filled with eating, movies, and Catchphrase tournaments. And, if THAT wasn’t enough to put someone over the edge with happiness, I also got a very cute pair of sunglasses from Goody’s that were only $6.50.

Hope your week was equally as sweet! 🙂

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Always a scripture reader

I once read a quote that said something along the lines of “you don’t go to college to meet your husband, you go to meet your bridesmaids.” I always remembered that saying, even though I feel sure that it was written by some lonely single girl who was boyfriend-less in college and was trying to make herself feel better. Still, I always admired her because at least she was looking on the bright side.

Another reason I liked that quote was because for me, it could not have been more true. I went all through those fun college days as single as a one dollar bill. And despite the fact that a boyfriend/husband was not to appear during those years of my life, I did “meet my bridesmaids” as that annonymous sage had so encouragingly proclaimed. Indeed, I was eternally blessed by the friendships I made in college, and hopefully one day I will be able to employ those lovely ladies to stand by me on what is sure to be the best day ever. I am not sure when this day will occur and could add my own line to the quote saying, “you also don’t go to your first year of grad school to meet your husband, you go to meet one more person to add to the bridesmaid list.”

But, to me, that just doesn’t flow quite as well or have the same emotional punch as the preceding part of the quote.

I bring up bridesmaids because even though I am not quite there yet, Brittany, one of my best friends from college, has recently asked me to be in HER wedding. Even typing that now sends me into a state of excitement that makes me want to reprise my “I’m gonna be a bridesmaid, I’m gonna be a bridesmaid” song I wrote the night she asked me.

The one I performed for my mama in which she told me she was going to call me BM for short if I kept it up.

ANYway, to say that I was excited and deeply touched by her invitation would be a huge understatement. I adore this girl and most of my funniest memories are with her. We were friends, roommates, and partners in crime for a huge chuck of college life, and something tells me we’ll always get into trouble together. And if I had to choose two people who epitimized genuine, good, and funny people, she would most definitely be one of them–and her fiance would most certainly be the other. I am telling you…quality people.

I think what makes this so special for me is two-fold. Firstly, even though we are great friends and she will most certainly stand with me on That Day in the future, Bri is one of those people who has deep and lasting relationships with a lot of people. She has a very close core group of friends from high school as well as a solid group of college friends whom she is very close to. Not to mention two sisters and a soon to be sister-in-law. Sufficed to say, the girl’s got people, and as much as I am sure she would love to have 17-20 bridesmaids (literally that is how many names she has been throwing around), it’s just not feasible if she wants to also, you know, invite family and other friends to the wedding. Secondly, I have never been a bridesmaid before. I have participated in some close friends’ wedding by reading scripture (which I loved doing), but those particular wedding parties were small and comprised mostly of family. Plus, most of my really close friends have yet to tie the knot.

So, while most girls are crying “always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” I’ve just been thinking to myself, “always a scripture reader, never a bridesmaid.”

All this might explain why I burst into tears just upon hearing her say, “JT, I have something to ask you.” It was a sweet, semi-embarrassing moment as I screamed yes into the phone. All the while listening to her laugh as I am sure she started rethinking the whole decision when she suddenly envisioned all the stories I could tell on her in my bridesmaid speech.

And it goes without saying that I cannot wait to start preparing it. I am sure there will be a repeat of tears, as well as my bridesmaid song.

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