Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Another place my family frequented was the North Georgia and Tennessee mountains. I remember seeing fireflies as the sun went down and wishing I could capture them and take them home.
We visited places like Lookout Mountain, Rock City and the alpine town of Helen. Sticking my feet in the cold Chattahoochee was refreshing in mid-July.
What about you? Where did your family spend summer vacation?
Did you visit the same places each year?
I'd love to read about it in the comments.
Monday, June 29, 2009
We've lived along the Florida Panhandle several times through the years and I've fallen in love with it. Don't tell Mama, but it is more like home to me than the red clay of Georgia. (I think she already knows.)
The Florida Panhandle has its own charm. There's an eclectic mix of foods and traditions of The South with the beach bum attitude of Florida.
Here, the Live Oaks make cool canopies over roads. Mullet is fried up with hush puppies at local diners where they serve sweet tea. Panhandle natives still do not wear white after Labor Day and their accents are distinctly Southern.
Every summer you can read license plates from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee from cars filled with families spending summer vacations here. They return like migrating birds each year to their favorite places like Destin, Mexico Beach, Panama City, Ft. Walton Beach and Pensacola.
I remember church youth trips to Panama City, spending hours on the beach forgetting sunscreen, and giggling with friends at the theme park on Miracle Strip Parkway. Another panhandle tradition is spending a day at Big Kahuna's, a water park in the Heart of Destin.
Today, the panhandle looks a little different. There are more fusion restaurants and transplanted palm trees. But if you look, you will find the old menus, people, and traditions which still make this area beautifully unique.
Like the Live Oaks gracing old neighborhood streets, the panhandle is still rooted in Southern beach charm. This is the reason families flock to these beaches each year for seafood festivals, fishing rodeos, and family reunions on the Fourth of July.
And the view ain't bad either.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
2. We are having fun. I didn't learn my lesson about sunscreen from my daughter. So now I officially look like a tourist. Only my shoulders. The rest of me looks like a responsible adult.
3. I can always tell when a family has just arrived at the beach. They run up, dump all of their stuff, take off their shoes and cover-ups and run into the surf with huge grins on their faces. I especially love to watch the little ones. They either run in screaming or run out screaming.
It is precious.
4. Shopping. I am like a kid in a candy store. We've lived in this area before, so I don't have to waste time scouting. Time is precious when you live in SmallTown. You cannot waste a single shopping opportunity.
5. I've had Starbucks nearly every day. It is part of my vacation budget.
6. Although my hair has never been shinier, it is much less manageable. I forgot what frizz is. Now, instead of spending my time moisturizing straw-like locks, I am spending my time smoothing poodle-like fuzz.
I am certain that if God gives us all new hair in Heaven that it will be perfectly lovely.
7. The greatest part about being here is getting away. But, it all makes me think about how, no matter where we are, we always want to get away. This is a real lesson about gratitude and contentment for me.
I hope I can remember this lesson when I get home and miss the humidity and shopping.
Have a wonderful Sunday!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
It was my cell phone.
"Hello, Miss Melanie. This is C. Where is ...(garbled words and static.")
"I'm sorry, sweetie. What did you say? I couldn't understand you."
"This is C. Where is Maggie's canned food?"
"Oh, you can just give her dry. We changed her to dry food. I'm sorry I didn't tell you."
"Is she behaving for you?"
"Yes. She is being good."
I closed my phone and felt a sick feeling in my stomach.
In an effort to make the cat sitting time easier on Nancy and her daughter, I had switched Maggie to dry food. She had gone off of her Elegant Medleys cold turkey a few weeks before and we had not noticed any ill effects.
My imagination got the best of me and I wondered if cats could go into a state of delayed detox.
Maggie could be Jonesing right now and poor Nancy is having to ice her down in the tub.
Oh, the humanity.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Her mama has fair skin.
Her daddy has fair skin.
Her grandparents have...
Well, you get the picture.
Because of our fair skin heritage, we wear sunscreen, a lot of sunscreen with SPF 90 or somethingorother. We buy the little pink tube made for babies because it is the most powerful, potent, potion on the shelf in a very delicate and sensitive sort of way.
We have a sunscreen routine and very methodical application. I always, always use the sunscreen stick on my daughter's face and the cream or lotion on the rest of her. It just works best.
I knew I had packed the sunscreen stick somewhere in a little sandwich bag with other lotions and such. But she was excited to get to the beach, so I substituted the stick for the cream on her face.
After returning from a relatively short time at the beach, spots of sunburn started to show up around her eyes. Within hours, the pink became pinker. Fortunately, she said it didn't hurt.
Her face, that is. My heart, however, broke into a million pieces.
So there I stood at the Pharmacy counter in Target, face to face with a well-trained professional, who probably hates tourists like me who come in with their flip-flops and air-brushed t-shirts glowing like cherry tomatoes, asking him the following question:
"I can't believe I'm asking this... but what is the best thing to put on my daughter's face? We put sunscreen on her but I guess she rubbed it off around her eyes."
"Just a good moisturizer. Solarcaine is fine other places, but not on the face."
"Good. That's what I got- a moisturizer."
"And you can give her Tylenol or Motrin for the pain."
"I got that, too."
"No, you don't understand. I'm one of those mothers who points and whispers when I see other mothers with kids who have a sunburn."
"Well, there goes Mother-Of-The-Year. Now, they'll be whispering about you."
"Yep. It's terrible."
"It's OK. It happens."
He handed me my medicine, a nice serving of crow, and I joined Hubs and daughter at the car.
"The pharmacist said I got what we needed. Moisturizer and Motrin. I told him that I'm usually the mother that points and whispers at mothers like me and he said I just lost "Mother-Of-The-Year."
"Yep. Now you'll never get to hold the big check."
I always wanted to hold the big check.
I wonder if they give you a huge Bic pen to endorse it.
Or a huge, pink, sunscreen stick with SPF 90.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Yes, I'm five.
First I took a ride on an airplane. The first leg of the trip wasn't bad. We arrived at the airport at a decent time, checked in, and had just enough time to spare to make a trip to the ladies' room (because I avoid the airplane lavatory at all costs.)
We boarded the plane one row behind the exit row. This is my row of choice. Yes, the exit row has more leg room but when the flight attendant asks me if I am capable of opening that very large and heavy door in case of an emergency, I want to be honest.
And by being honest, I would say "No, I am neither strong enough nor capable and I think at that point I'd be freaking out, so no, m'am I cannot be the hero on this flight which is really tragic, because it would make for some seriously good material for my blog."
Then she'd just move me to the row behind the exit row, which is my row of choice. Because it has the convenience of the close exit without all the hassle of having to save everyone on the plane.
So, instead, two old men and one man who apparently didn't speak English sat in the exit row.
Personally, I didn't feel very safe but they had great leg room.
The second flight of the trip was not that pleasant. I sat several rows behind the exit row, behind the wing and within close proximity to the airplane lavatory. Apparently every man on the plane stopped by the airport Starbucks before boarding.
I really wish Sky Mall magazine would sell a gadget that eliminates lavatory odors while flying. And please. The term lavatory does not make it fancy nor pleasant. It's a porta potty with wings.
We all know how I feel about that.
We landed in sunny Florida with great anticipation of the beach. And the humidity.
When you have lived in the South for nearly your whole life and you move to a place where your sandwich goes stale while you reach for your chips, you tend to miss the moisture. I walked off the airplane and my hair and skin literally said "thank you," out loud. Or maybe it was the flight attendant.
People think that the beauty pageant contestants from the South win because of the intense training. The real secret is the humidity. And maybe their overbearing mothers.
I promise more exciting things have happened than my pores opening up and my hair follicles singing the Hallelujah Chorus. But for now, I have to go. There's a key lime pie from Publix in the frig. just calling my name.
I just realized that there are a lot of things talking to me. Or I'm just hearing voices.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Maggie has been spared from the torture chamber (kennel) for a few days. A sweet friend is taking care of her and keeping an eye on the house. I hope we still have a friendship when I get back.
I'm quite certain that one of the Hatfields asked a McCoy to watch their cat for a week while they were at the beach. The Hatfields tried to smooth it over with an alligator ash tray but we all know how that turned out.
I hope to share some great stories of airplane food and other travel fodder with you in a few days.
Say a quick prayer for my friend.
Or that I can find a really cool alligator ash tray.
Friday, June 19, 2009
She is Mama's sister, the youngest of my grandmother's brood. Because of her youth, she was the fun aunt for my cousins and me. In fact, I have a picture of her in her high school graduation cap and gown, posing nicely, trying to hold me, while I toddled away in my diaper-filled pants.
I am the oldest grandchild, the only girl, so we've always had a special relationship. (Well, since I was potty trained.)
When I called this morning, she said she and my uncle had just come from a market where they purchased peas. She was resting a few minutes before putting them up in the freezer.
"We bought pinkeyes and acre peas," she said.
My mouth began to water.
I remember many summers on my granny's porch, surrounded by Mama, Aunt Barbara, and Granny, with a bucket of unshelled peas in front of me and a green Tupperware bowl in my lap.
I learned very early how to shell peas without loosing a single precious morsel.
Snap off the end, open it, then slide your thumb down the pod, careful to let the peas fall in the bowl and not on the porch. It doesn't take long for your thumb to get sore, so you find ways to continue shelling or rest a moment, until all the peas are shelled and sorted, pausing long enough to drink cold swallows of sweet tea.
The porch was always cooler than the house in the summer. Granny didn't have air conditioning for years. She and my grandfather just didn't see the need. They'd lived as long as they had without it and been just fine, thank you.
So we spent many hot afternoons sitting on the porch, fanning ourselves and swatting the mosquitoes and gnats. I dangled my bare feet from Granny's swing, next to her sprawling ferns and petunias in hanging baskets. I listened to crickets, mockingbirds, and Bobwhite quails.
"Bob White! Bob White! Bob White!" I called into the pecan trees.
The birds answered back and I called again, "Bob White!" in a melodic dance between bird and child.
Our duet continued until the quail flew away to a neighbor's yard. I returned to shelling my bucket of peas, the bowl still resting on my lap. The four of us sat for hours there on the porch until it was time to go in and cook supper.
Sore thumbs, sweet peas, bare feet covered in sap. Thick, humid air filled with calls of bobwhite quails and the faint smell of thunderstorms across town. Afternoons ending with a supper of fried chicken, pork chops, or freshly caught catfish.
These are the memories of generations sitting on a porch.
These are the treasures of a little girl loving summer in the South.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Her mouth was all puckered up as she asked me, "Have you heard about the new fluoride treatment?"
Several of my friends and I take our families to the same dentist. This is part of being in a small town. You share the same dentist, the same doctors, the same grocery stores and the same sized water bills.
As Nancy wrinkled her nose, she explained that she had just come from the dentist, "They have a new fluoride treatment that they paint on. It's much more effective, lasts longer, but it leaves this film on your teeth that makes them feel fuzzy."
"Thanks for the heads up," I said, "we're going to the dentist tomorrow."
My daughter and I showed up at the dentist office today, armed with the warning. I climbed in the chair first.
The hygienist donned her best mask, gloved up and began. Sometimes I get a hygienist who believes the scraping (for lack of the proper dental term) is her chance to inflict pain on the helpless, but this hygienist was one of the special ones. She was both gentle and efficient. I'll bet she graduated top of her class.
Another hygienist popped her head in to call my daughter over to the next chair. I waved good-bye while trying not to drool too much, and waited for the polish treatment.
My hygienist looked at her shiny tray and said,"All I have is cookie dough flavor. Would you rather have mint? I can ask someone to get me some."
"No, that's Okay," I answered, "I eat cookie dough."
She giggled. That's when I knew she was normal.
Once she was done, I declared the cookie dough to be truly authentic and suggested that anyone on a diet should just forgo eating the real thing and just have their teeth cleaned.
She giggled again. That's when I knew she was just humoring me.
Within a few minutes, the dentist walked in. We said our polite "how are you doing's?" and she looked at my x-rays.
As she rolled her chair alongside me, I said jokingly, "I heard about your new fluoride treatment."
You could hear floss drop.
The dentist and the assistant exchanged glances.
My dentist then asked,"From who?"
I stammered and hemmed and hawed. I started laughing nervously under the pressure of that little swivel light and said, "I don't know if I should say."
Refusing to buckle under the pressure, I kept Nancy's identity to myself.
I mean, this is how Elaine Benes ended up.
Attempting to stifle the awkward, I assured the dentist that the person was fine with the treatment, that she just wanted to warn me about the fuzzy fluoride.
I then went on to tell her that my friend had once won Dental Patient of The Year for flossing after each meal and showing up at filling appointments an hour early.
My dentist launched into a heartfelt oral essay on the effectiveness of the new fluoride and how badly she feels for making her patients' teeth feel fuzzy. There were percentages and studies with lots of letters and acronyms. By the end of her speech, I felt sorry for her.
She convinced me (almost) that she didn't take it personally and left with a recently whitened smile on her face.
When the assistant walked in with the new fuzzy fluoride treatment, she asked,"Don't you want it?"
I eagerly, insincerely said, "OH, YES!" and chose the melon flavor.
When it was all done, my mouth tasted like cantaloupe and my teeth felt like they needed brushing. Ironic.
Sitting up in the chair, I saw my daughter had returned.
"Do you have fuzzy teeth, too?" I asked her.
"What toothpaste did you get? I got cookie dough. What did you have? Bubble gum?"
"Yes. Ahhhh, man," she said in disappointment.
My hygienist turned to her and said,"You can have cookie dough for your next cleaning."
I added, "Yep. It tastes great. Just like cookie dough. Although it's not that great with the melon chaser."
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
My dining table was surrounded this afternoon by sweet giggly girls making leis for our luau themed party. It's a tradition at our house to always make a craft at a party. I love crafts. It seems my love for all things crafty has clouded my judgement.
When I was flipping through the Oriental Trading catalog, I saw kits for making some precious Hawaiian leis and thought to myself, "Hmmph! I could totally make those myself. How hard could it be? Silk flowers, string and some plastic straws- piece of cake."
First, I ordered the flower petals. They come in packs of 250 and the comments on the website read that "there are less of them than you would think."
So, the Southern woman in me, whose greatest fear (other than not looking natural at my funeral) is to never run out of anything for a party, did what her mama would have her do- order twice as many as she thinks she'll need.
That's 500 flower petals.
We only invited 8 kids. That's 9 kids total. That's at least 50 petals per lei.
The petals arrived on the doorstep, along with all of the other Oriental Trading goodies (flamingo straws, flamingo skewers, hibiscus skewers, aloha bracelets and all the other fun finds packaged neatly in plastic bags.) I separated all the petals.
All 500 of them.
All 500 of them that did not have a hole for string.
Then I searched for straws. My idea was to cut them into small segments to separate the flower petals. I sat at the dining table for at least an hour cutting straws and asking my daughter to retrieve them from across the room. The thing about straws is that they become projectiles while being cut into small segments for separating 500 petals.
After finding some white yarn, I fashioned make-shift needles with pipe cleaners, tied the string on and made my own little lei craft kits.
The girls never knew my angst. One even commented on my "cool needle" pipe cleaner. They sat at the table, threading their petals, in random order or careful patterns. I sat at the table with them praising them for their creative talent, not even hinting at the countless hours I spent making their little lei kits.
Mama taught me a lot- to never run out of anything for a party and to never let them know how hard you worked preparing. (Even if you had to cut 500 holes for 500 petals with no holes for string for a Hawaiian lei that was worn for less than 5 minutes. Not that you're keeping track.)
I really don't mind mowing the grass. It is usually my husband's chore but, every now and then I get out there with the mower and cut the lawn. The one part I dread is filling the gas tank...
For the rest of this post, join me over at The Internet Cafe.
Monday, June 15, 2009
We've been planning my daughter's birthday party. The very first decision which must be made (trumping time and date) is theme. It's all about the theme. I have hosted bowling parties, princess parties, cowgirl parties and tropical themed parties.
The bowling party was, by far, the easiest one to prepare. Calling the lady in the hairnet at the bowling alley and telling her how many kids will eat the hot dog and fries basket is about as easy as it gets.
Although, the actual party was not void of drama. It rained so hard that day. I had to actually go back in the house and change clothes after gingerly sheltering the birthday cake while loading the car. I sloshed myself into the bowling alley in the flooded parking lot, lugging treat bags, the cake and gifts.
When it was all over, my daughter expressed her dissapointment about one omitted detail- balloons. Apparently, in the four year-old world, balloons are a staple of birthday parties. Forget the bowling and the hot dogs.
Oh, and in the three year-old world, the princess dress-up outfit must be put together correctly. Yes, Belle and Cinderella are friends, but it doesn't give you license to mix a Belle dress with Cinderella plastic shoes.
Just FYI, to you mothers out there.
I love planning these parties. Sometimes they are simple. Other times we get a little crazy. Like this year.
We discussed the various themes and decided on the luau. This is great because I have already hosted a luau party. I knew just what to do. Grab the Oriental Trading catalog, turn to "luau" and make a list. It was almost as easy as calling the lady in the hairnet.
Decorations are simple. Just a colorful tablecloth and some festive plates and napkins. The menu was a serious topic of discussion. We decided on cupcakes, fruit kabobs, and little smokies. I was going to be authentic and roast a pig in the backyard but something about city ordinances just ruined that idea.
I found the cutest little bendy straws with flamingos on them. I know that flamingos really scream Florida and not Hawaii but, hello, bendy straws!
On a completely random, unrelated thought, this reminds me of a friend I worked with right out of college. She said as soon as she had moved into her first home she was going to buy herself a set of plastic flamingos for the yard just for the total, tacky entertainment value. You know what? She did.
I just wish we were still in touch so I could borrow them for the party.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Please take a minute to check this link and read the recall to see if you own this particular robe.
You can also read about how you can receive recall emails from the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Be safe, readers!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
It's been days since I've posted anything at all and I'm not really sure why, except for the fact that nothing exciting has happened.
I've spent the week driving my daughter back and forth to a kids' art and poetry class, attending picnic get-togethers, running to the drug store, the grocery store and the Secondhand Starbucks.
That's pretty much it.
Oh, and I had some blood drawn on Wednesday for some routine lab work. The lady who does the labs is so good that I took a comment card home and told her I'd write a letter. She is the best needle sticker EVER. This lady is so good that there isn't even a little dot, much less a bruise. Plus, it doesn't hurt.
She has skills.
Sadly, I get excited about the fact that someone poked me with a needle without inflicting pain. I should get out more.
Tonight, I plan to check out the new show "She's Got The Look," although I have a feeling it will end up getting on my nerves. I know the commercials have really been annoying.
My daughter and I were watching the commercial for the show (about looking good and modeling over the age of 35) and she blurted out, "That is so stupid!"
"What is stupid about it? Looking good when you're old?" I asked.
"How they're dressed."
"Oh, like in bikinis and stuff?"
"You're right. You can look good without being half-dressed."
"Yeah," she added," you don't have to look like Queen Elizabeth, but you don't have to look like a biker woman either."
"I agree," and I smiled a smug Mom smile and patted myself on the back, just a little.
No offense to Queen Elizabeth.
Monday, June 08, 2009
I'm deli meat. People call me "turkey." I don't mind 'cause I'm special. Honey Roasted. Sweet and savory, I'm a favorite. My competition is smoked. You could say he's the fiery one of the cold cuts.
Today I was hanging out in the frig. I can't remember how long I've been in there or how long I'll last, although the date on my package says I'm good for another week.
I was chatting it up with Monterey Jack when the light came on. The lady of the house poked around a bit looking for something for her lunch. She found me.
I saw her eyeing the date on my package. She didn't look convinced either. So she opened up my packaging, looked closely and took a whiff. She sniffed again, then put me on the counter next to a jar of Hellman's and a loaf of bread.
Again, she checked the date on my package. Took a whiff.
The look on her face told me she still wasn't convinced but, before I knew it, she was lathering the mayo on two slices of bread. (I'm more of a Dijon guy.) She took a few slices of me, folded them on the bread, sliced the new sandwich into two triangles and took a bite.
Then she wrinkled up her nose, opened up the sandwich, removed me completely, put the two pieces of bread back together and finished her lunch.
Now I'm hanging out in the trash next to a half-eaten peach and a used Bounty paper towel.
I'll bet Smokey is never treated like this.
Tomorrow- A trip to the landfill. It should be fun.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
I am starting to feel sorry for Mrs. Ingalls. Her summers were bogged down with thrashing the wheat and putting up vegetables for the long winter. Funny. I just can't picture her collecting ladybugs in a jar.
Yesterday Daughter and I met some friends for coffee. Well, N and I had coffee. The kids had water or milk.
N and I caught up on life. The kids entertained themselves with huge cinnamon rolls and card games and none of them asked to leave until it was time.
If you are a mom, you totally get that last sentence. If you are a mom of preschoolers, please let this be a testimony to what is possible in your future. Just keep the faith.
After coffee time, Daughter ended up going to play with N's daughter, C. The girls played with the dogs, tried to play with the cat, and collected ladybugs in an official bug collecting container.
When I picked her up, Daughter was helping N finish making cupcakes. A mom after my own heart, N let the girls eat the leftover batter from the bowl. YUM.
We said our goodbyes and headed home to collecting more ladybugs in our own yard and silly summer things that we won't remember but loved doing just the same.
I ignored the laundry and the vacuuming. I didn't tell Daughter to clean her room. No one had homework. No one had a test the next day.
Our day ended with us in our pj's, each with a spoon, eating peanut butter from the jar, a jar that may someday become a home to ladybugs or caterpillars or some other creepy crawly thing.
Yep, this is summer.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
FREE ice cream. Hello.
(Sonic did not pay me to share this vital information. However, I will be sipping a nice root beer float at say, around 8:01 Wednesday night.)
See Kristen for more great tips!
Monday, June 01, 2009
"Hello," I answered in my groggy state.
"What kind of flour do you need? All purpose or Self-rising?" asked the familiar voice on the other end.
"Self-rising, I replied, "Love you."
"Love you, too," said the voice.
It was Hubs.
Y'all know I am picky about my biscuit flour. Mama has shipped it to me and brought it to me in person. I have run slap out and my people are starting to suffer.
When Hubs said he was going on a quick overnight work trip to the south, I asked him to buy some good biscuit flour.
On his way to the airport Saturday morning, he stopped in at Wal-mart to purchase my White Lily flour and, on a serious mission to find the right kind, called me on his cell phone to double check. After all, we're not talking about coming home with the wrong thing and driving back to the store to exchange it. We're talking about a plane ride across the country.
So, minutes after he went through the self check-out at Wal-mart, he boarded a plane with the goods.
This is what he brought home.
I'll be making biscuits every day, several times a day, for the next century. You'll notice the busted bag to the right. (You just can't trust the airlines with your precious cargo anymore.)
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to run to Wal-mart and purchase 10 gallons of buttermilk.