2012 | Our Year in Review

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The 14th of December

Nine years ago today, my aunt opened the door to her home to find her oldest son--a police officer--standing there; one of his peers at his side.

She'd lived through this before.  A year and a half earlier she was informed by police that her middle son, Jerrid, had been in an accident and was life-flighted to a hospital a little more than an hour away.

So when she saw her son at the door she told him, "Don't give me any bad news."

Her husband and youngest son had left for work earlier that morning.

I don't know--and I can't imagine--how my cousin broke the news to her.  But he felt it was his duty to be the one to tell her that her son and his brother, Jerrid, had taken his life that morning.

I can't imagine how my aunt handled the news, the grief, and the devastation of it.

When my Daddy told me of it I was preparing myself for him--always the jokester--to be pulling some sort of prank on me.  When he told me my first thought was "That's a horrible joke."

And then--with full force--what he was saying hit me.

I don't remember if I cried then or if I held it together until I got upstairs in my bedroom.  But I remember kneeling at the foot of my bed and just letting the tears pour out of my broken heart.  I'll always feel the distinct feeling of arms around me that I felt right then even though I was physically alone in the room.

Every year on the 14th of December, I play those moments.  What it must have been like for my cousin and my aunt and what I felt like when I was told. 

Every year, on the 14th of December I relieve that day and the days that followed.

Every year on the 14th of December, no matter how happy I am in my life, I wake up with a broken heart full of tears.

This year the 14th of December is worse.

Because now my heart is full of hurt for more mothers who sent their babies off to school but were never again able to bring them home.

I imagine the officers who had to tell them and the relatives left to mourn them. 

What a sad and tragic days this is. 

Girl Talk | Brassieres

Call them what you will...Over the Shoulder Boulder Holders, Wiggler De-Jigglers, Boobie Baskets...there's nothing that causes a woman more anguish than shopping for a new torture device.

Previously my anguish came from being a twenty-something browsing the B cups in the store and searching for a bra that had part of the boobs already attached to it (without which I would have been in the A section).  Fate was always cruelest when the little pre-teen saunters by with her full set of D's.

"Excuse me"

Me thinking to myself:  Seriously?!  Cause you know she can't possibly make it past you with those things unless you move.

It was salt in an open wound.  And it happened every time.

Not this time.  Fortunately God knew that I was going to have all the irritation I could handle with this shopping experience.

At about 6:30 last night I updated my FB status to "1 hour, 3 dressing rooms, 24 bras, 0 purchases, 1 irritated woman. #menhaveitsoeasy"  Needless to say it quickly garnered likes and comments from the relatable females on my friends list.

The problem appears to be that I've put this off for too long.  Last time I bought a bra I just got the same brand, style & size as the one I was wearing at the time.  Unfortunately....my muffins are topping in multiple places now and that's not an option this time.

So, to the dressing rooms I go.

And how quickly I discover that a 34B bra and a 36C bra have absolutely nothing more than brand and color in common.  Shape, size, structure....it's a whole new ballgame.  And comfort?  Psha!  You're kidding yourself!

At lunchtime today I braced myself for Round Two, back to one of the stores to try on some other brands I didn't check out last night.  6 more bras there (total now of 30) before I gave up.  On a not-very-thought-out whim I decided to run to Victorias Secret, even though it's Holiday season and I have no business dropping VS prices on a bra when I should be putting that money towards The Boy and his ever-expanding Christmas List.  But I have time to waste, so I go in.

Three bras later I'm kicking myself in the tookus because I feel like my girl bits are on a cloud of blissful comfort in a bengal striped bra with pretty sparkles on it.  The torture part of this device is the price tag. 

My regular bra that JCP discontinued....I could buy three bras (on sale) for the price of this one.  If I sucked it up and got some of the itchy, scratchy bras at TJ Maxx I could buy anywhere from 6-8 bras for the price of this ONE.

This one bra is the equivalent of dinner for my family at Red Lobster, drinks and tip included.  If you know me, you know I'd much rather have Red Lobster.

Two days, 33 bras, and a whole lot of irritation, frustration, and a twinge of regret later I'm still empty handed (no pun intended).  But only because God saw fit to ensure that store would be out of that bra in that color and that size that I needed.

So now, after knowing what it's like to drive a spacious and luxurious sports car, my girls are back to driving their 1973 Fiat 500.

Ain't that the way the cookie crumbles.

And it ain't over yet.

Veterans Day | Sonny's Story

I pulled into the parking lot at work at 8:00 this morning and had a customer waiting in the parking lot for me. 

This is typically never a good way to start a day, much less a Monday.  However, whatever may come of it, it was worth it to have the almost twenty minutes that gentleman sat in my office with me (my computer unfailingly takes 10 minutes to boot up if there's a customer waiting on it).

This customer (I'll use his childhood nickname of "Sonny") asked for the date while filling out his check and I gave it to him and commented that it was the observance of Veterans Day and asked if he'd served. 

"Twenty-four years with the Corps." he casually told me. 

And the story began.

After falling on hard times, his parents and each of their kids, moved to his grandparents' farm where they each got up and worked from sun-up to sun-down.

One day while working in the field, his grandma drove up in the carriage and angrily ordered him get into the buggy.  He did, curious as to why she was so upset with him, and she drove him off to the house where he found Federal Agents waiting on them.

His first question to them was what he'd done to get in trouble.  The agents assured him that he wasn't in trouble, he had been drafted to serve his country.  Sonny refused to talk to them, however, until they informed his Grandmama that he hadn't actually done anything wrong.  They were able to explain it to her and then they continued on with their conversation.

Sonny and his dad were later discussing which unit he'd join, his dad recommending the Army but Sonny was firm that he wanted to join the Marine Corps and so the week after they filled up with gas (at that time the gas pumps required filling a glass cylinder with the number of gallons you wanted), they paid their 10¢ per gallon and were on their way.

After filling out the paperwork, the drafting officer told him to report back in a few days for duty.

His dad was outraged and informed the officer that it cost him 25¢ to get him down here, the papers were signed, and Sonny was their problem now.  His dad left and the Marine Corp had to put him and a few other officers up in a hotel for a few days.

He shipped out to California for his training (I believe he said he was gone 18 weeks) and when he got off the train back in Arkansas, he thumbed a ride with a peddler back to his grandparents farm. When he got out of the car he found his father and grandfather on the porch.  The dog met him with a growl, but he rubbed the dog and played with his ears and let him get a good sniff of him.  After appeasing the dog, his dad told him "I don't know who you are, but that dog seems to.  What business do you have here?"

He told his dad who he was and his dad asked for his papers to make sure he had leave to be home.

The following morning at 4:30 a.m. his dad woke him by shaking his bed.  Sonny leapt out of the bed with a "Yes Sir".  His dad laughed and decided he'd learned something while he was gone after-all.  Sonny was confused at the early-morning wakeup and his dad reminded him that he'd worked that farm all his life, his 14 day leave wasn't a vacation (as he'd thought it would be) it was merely back to work.

After his leave he was shipped over to Korea.  Like many Veterans he skipped over the details of his time overseas but he mentioned that he'd had his money sent home while he was gone.  When he returned he asked his dad to take him to the bank so he could go buy himself a car.

"Well, son...we need to talk about your money," his dad told him.  The family had fallen on hard times and had to use all of the money Sonny had earned.  Without an apology, Sonny accepted it and continued on.

Later, after his father and then his grandfather had passed, his grandmother told him that when she passed the farm would be his.

Confused--as he certainly never wanted the farm--he asked her why.

"All that money of yours that we had to take from you...this farm is yours.  We owe it to you."

The 1,100 acre farm that his grandfather had bought for $30/acre he later sold for $450,000.  And--thanks to having saved some documents from his grandmother--he didn't have to pay a penny's worth of tax on it either.

And just like that, he thanked me for my time, I thanked him for his service and sharing his story with me, and he left. 

Mama, Are We Republicans?

My seven year old got very into the election this year.  I know they've been discussing Presidents at daycare, but his school has apparently also been discussing the election as well.

Having worked around politics before, I hate them.  I hate the lies, the deceit, the slander...politics is not something I will ever willingly participate in because I'm just not the type of person that can easily let stuff roll off my back.  Personal attacks should never be "just part of the game".  You know me and my opinions...so obviously politics aren't a frequent discussion point at our house, though we may make comments in passing on relevant matters.

Which is why it surprised me when Ty took such an interest in the campaign and the election and even went so far as to tell Jason and I who we needed to vote for.  When I asked him why he felt that way, he only had a child's logic to put behind it, but he was adamant in his decision and his support for his candidate. 

However, last night we did tune in for the election results which prompted a string of questions from Ty as the night progressed--along with a whole slew of information he'd learned on term limits and such like that. 

At bedtime last night Ty asked me "Mama, are we Republicans?" (knowing Jason and I had cast our votes for the Republican candidate.

"No baby, we're Christians."

I elaborated by telling him that we vote based on our Christian beliefs and what man we feel best represents those values and beliefs.

One of my deciding factors in this election was Abortion, so I tried to explain that to Ty. 

"Some parties believe in killing babies while they're still in their Mama's belly."

"I'm glad you didn't kill me while I was in your belly."

"I never even cosidered it, baby.  You had a heart-beat before I even knew you were in my future.  You kicked in my belly.  You had the hiccups in my belly.  You even jumped at loud noises that scared you while you were in my belly.  You were a living, functioning little person.  God gave you life and if he went to all the work of creating you...I believe you were meant to be and it wouldn't be my place to think I was smarter than God."

"I'm glad I'm alive."

"I'm so glad you are, too."

I read on Facebook today, "How can we expect God to stand with us when we're not standing on the Bible?"

How can we expect blessings from a God whom we have alienated, whose greatest blessings we abort because it's inconvenient or painful? What future do we have when we kill the future off before it's born.

God help us...and God help our children--the ones we don't murder have as dire of a future as the ones we do.

Changing Directions

I keep coming back here. 

I keep opening up a new post and I keep wanting to write something, but I don't.

This is my place to take what's inside of me and purge or express it.  But when I come here and I open a new post, all that comes to mind is things I cannot say about ugliness I'm supposed to pretend isn't deliberate.  While it's a ticking time bomb before that verbal explosion goes off....that's not what this is for.

This blog has been my place of hope and my place for change and my place for me.

And, you know, there's a little of all three going on in my life these days.

Many of you know that I work in Insurance.  My Agent is retiring at the end of the year so there's a lot of changes going on right now.  I've known for almost the whole of this year that each office birthday we celebrated would be our last office birthday to celebrate together, so it's been a bit bittersweet.

I've only been at this office for a little more than two years now, but when you spend half of your waking hours with your coworkers, you tend to develop relationships with them and I have some pretty special relationships with some of my coworkers.

I've been blessed to know and get to work for my agent for these past two years.  You all know that I set a high standard of expectations in myself and in others and Roger meets them.  He's a kind and generous man.  He's one of those above-and-beyond types.  The number of stories that I've been told by coworkers and customers of Roger and the heart he has for others has only made me more inspired by the example he's set throughout his 30 years in Insurance.

One of my goals in life--which unfortunately I fail at regularly--is to be the kind of person that makes others better for having known them.  Roger is this kind of person.  He's a Christian, a husband, a father, a PaPa, a friend, a boss, and an avid golfer!  But he's an all around nice guy and I'm glad I've gotten to know him and work for him so there's obviously some sadness that the next phase of our lives will bring some separation between me and this man that I admire.

But looking forward, I'm excited to work with my future/new boss.  

Let me just back up a bit and interject...God has been in this whole process.  He's been in it in a big way.  All the concerns that I had...being separated from my favorite coworkers, being paired with a boss that will be compatible with me, being able to grow and learn and serve my customers....God's been in the details both large and small.

I'm so excited about my new agent and the role he's asked me to take in the new agency.  I'm excited that I'll get the chance to work for another good man with great ideas and a positive attitude.  I'm excited that I'll continue working with one of my favorite coworkers.  In an ideal world there would be  another one joining us, too, so I'm sad at that.  But there's a lot of good waiting ahead of us.  

And we're going head-first into the most overwhelming part of this change now.  My new agent will be signing a new lease any day now, I've been working on a floor plan for the office layout and I'm so thankful that he encourages me to share my opinions and ideas and thoughts on this whole process (because you KNOW how hard it is for me to keep those to myself!).  Construction will start full-force soon and a stock-an-office shopping list is being accumulated and negotiated with a local store where we can hopefully submit a full list, haggle out a price, and have everything drop-shipped to our office when we're ready for it.

Along with those changes, our current office will start to clean out, we'll celebrate the last few birthdays and holidays together and come December 31st we will close our doors for the last time.  When we return to work on January 2, it will be to a new office, a new boss, and a new chapter in my life.

I guess it's only fitting that I change the chapter in this book, too.

Just remember, change is a good thing. 

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today, I married the other half of my heart.  

The man who makes me so happy I cry and so mad I can't help but smile and kiss him!  

The man who completed our little family and gave us a future we would never have found without him.

The man who's smart and handsome and funny and has just enough nerd to perfectly balance out the nerd in me.

My husband. 

My best friend.

My love. 

My Happily Ever After.

Happy Anniversary Jason!  Here's to many more years together!

Thou Shalt Not Hit & Run

I picked up supper after work tonight.  While I was stopped at a stoplight I called Jason to let him know I was headed home.  I'm telling him about my day when I realize that the little blue Chevy Sonic in front of me--the one with the temporary tags--is rolling backwards toward me. 

I do a quick beep-beep of my horn to get the driver's attention.

And a moment later, another beep-beep as he continues to roll backwards.

And a third beep-beep as I tell Jason that the car in front of me is rolling backwards toward me.  I check my mirrors to see if I have room to back up, but there's not time and the car behind me is too close and the car in front of me is within 24" of contact, so I pushed the horn steadily trying to get the driver's attention.

Regardless, he rolls into the front of my car.  I tell Jason what happened and hang up with him so I can pull over and check things out.

The guy driving the red Chevy Truck in the lane next to us looks back at me and gestures like "What the heck?"

I motion to him asking if my car is okay and he leans out looking at my front bumper and shrugs his shoulders telling me that he can't tell.

Meanwhile, the light turns green and the Sonic moves over into the right lane as if he's going to pull into the parking lot of the gas station.

Except he keeps going.  So I assume he's trying to get to a bigger parking lot, such as the hospital parking lot just a short distance ahead.  Except at this point he starts rapidly accelerating away from me.

Fortunately one of us was intelligent enough to realize he wasn't going to get too far in 5:00 traffic, so I picked up the phone, dialed 911 and continued on behind him.

I was on the phone with the 911 operator when he passed a car in the turn lane while trying to get away from me.

The dispatcher told me that I'd need to pull over somewhere to give a statement and I told her that he was turning into the Arby's, so I'd park there--whether the guy stopped or not.

He did stop when he saw I was going to continue to follow him, though.

And he got out yelling at me saying that I ran into him and that I was on the phone and I wasn't paying any attention and I rear-ended him.  I tried being calm and explained to him that I saw him rolling backwards so I honked my horn at him several times, trying to get his attention.  I also followed him trying to get him to pull over to check for damage but he left the scene of the accident.

Mr. Aggressive became Mr. Hostile in telling me that he just left the dealership in his brand new car and I rear-ended him and it was my fault because I was on my cell phone.  I told him that I wanted a report made for information sake and he said that I could make a report but he wasn't sticking around so I nonchalantly took a picture of his car and temporary tags and then took a picture of him.

(I know...not smart given that he was already hostile...)

Anyway, so he continues yelling at me and still blaming me--coming back repeatedly to the fact that I was on my cell phone.  "That's against the law."

Me:  "No sir.  Texting while driving is against the law, talking on the phone is not.  However, leaving the scene of an accident and passing in a no-passing zone are both against the law."

Him:  "What are you, a cop?"

Me:  "Actually, I worked with Law Enforcement for 7 years." 

Can we say game-changer?

He'd wait on the police, but he was going to wait inside. 

Me:  "Oh look!  They're here."  (insert fake sorority girl smiley face)

He didn't even let the officer get off his bike before he was racing up to him.  I stood back.  I know what it's like to work with stupid people, I wasn't going to be that person when he was doing a fine job himself.

The officer ignored him and came to me.

Officer:  "Is everyone okay?"

Me:  "Yes, sir.  And there doesn't seem to be any damage but I wanted an officer here for a report."

Officer:  "Okay (he takes out his tape recorder and turns it on) what's going on?"

This is where Mr. Hostile tries to jump in.  The officer quiets him and says he'll get to him in a moment, he's going to let the lady talk first.

So I explained that we'd had a very minor accident and there wasn't any apparent damage but we seemed to be in a disagreement in what happened.  

He asked me to continue so I explained the whole story of what happened (we had to stop several times for Mr. (at this point) Belligerent.  The officer stopped him, again, and explained that I couldn't get a word in because of him and he would get a chance to give his statement.

Back to me, I explained to him what happened after the contact between the vehicles and the officer then turned to get the now Mr. Trying-to-be-Reasonable's statement.  My what a different story he was suddenly telling!

He just bought the car and it was a manual and he supposes that it might have been possible that he rolled into my car, but he knew that it wasn't hard enough for there to be damage so he didn't pull over and he thought that I had rear-ended him.

The officer pointed out that he'd just left the car lot in a new car...surely he'd want to make sure there was no damage.

I sat quietly while he gave his statement and answered all the questions that I was hoping the officer would ask.  The officer told him that he completely understood why I was upset.  I interjected, politely, that I wasn't at all upset about the accident but his leaving the scene and his driving afterward concerned me (and then I turned to the man) but what upset me was how he got out of his car yelling at me, being aggressive and trying to bully me about it.

And then Mr. Begging-for-Forgiveness appeared.  He was sorry, would I forgive him, did I want his insurance information, did I want his license, he even offered to mow my yard to make it up to me.

Long story short, the officer had a talk with him about what constituted an accident, what the follow-up procedure was for an accident, and what those yellow lines on the road meant.  I was given his insurance and driver information (not that I think I need it, I just have this principle of not wanting someone to think they got away with doing something wrong).

And because you know me and you know I can't pass up an opportunity, I had a little talk with the man about attitudes and how none of this needed to be unpleasant or aggressive, a good attitude would have gone a long way in settling the whole thing more quickly and with less fuss.

So that's my drive home tonight.

But on the good side, I got to meet a really nice officer that stood up for me when the guy wouldn't let me talk (major cool points there) and I found out that he and his wife are foster parents, too, and adopted their first child last year.  Even more cool points there.  Very awesome to meet someone willing to give his time, his home, his family and--if the job required it--his life for others.

Never a dull moment, I tell ya!


re•cip•ro•cal [ri-cip-ruh-kuhl]

  1. given or felt by each toward the other; mutual:  reciprocal respect.
  2. given, performed, felt, etc., in return:  reciprocal aid
  3. corresponding; matching; complimentary; equivalent:  reciprocal priviledges at other health clubs.
  4. Grammar.  (of a pronoun or verb) expressing mutual relationship or action:  "Each other" and "one another" are reciprocal pronouns.
  5. inversely related or proportional; opposite.
  6. Mathematics.  noting expressions, relations, etc., involving reciprocals:  a reciprocal function.
  7. Navigation. bearing in a direction 180° to a given direction; back.
  8. something that is reciprocal to something else; equivalent; counterpart; complement.
  9. Also called multiplicative inverse. Mathematics. the ratio of unity to a given quantity or expression; that by which the given quantity or expression is multiplied to produce unity: The reciprocal of x is 1/ x.

Way back in the day, in my college years when I was completing my Gen Ed requirements I had to take a Sociology class. 

Don't tell my instructor, but there's actually only one thing that I took away from that class and it was one little section early on in the course about types of relationships between people.

The section of this discussion that stuck with me the most was on reciprocal relationships.

In this section we learned what--to me--seemed something so common sensical that some of the questions and conversation it generated in class baffled me.

The notion was that most frequently the relaionships (business relationships, professional relationships, personal relationships and even family relationships) that were successful were the relationships in which both sides contributed to the relationship equally.  Granted, there may be times when it's 60/40 or even 90/10, but overall, the relationship was balanced.  It wasn't all give on one side and all take on the other side.

Non-reciprocal relationships, however, had a significantly lower success rate.  Business or professional examples of this might be the Big Banking institutions that are now nickle and diming their customers to death with all these new fees.  They're increasing what they require of their customers but not compensating with what they give to their customers.

Personal examples of this might be the roommate who eats everything in the fridge and never contributes anything toward replacing your items that they ate; the co-worker who's always willing to push their work off on you when they're too busy, but never willing to help lighten your load when you're piled up with work; or the relative who always asks you to give up your time for them, but is just simply too busy to ever give up their time for you.

The list can go on and on because we all know examples of those types of relationships.  And in class that week, we all had a great time sharing those stories with one another.

But in the end, we all agreed on one thing.  Those types of relationshps didn't work.  We either resented or termintated those relationships in the end.  They simply weren't worth what was required to maintain them.  And most of the time they were non-reciprocal relationships to begin with because the other party didn't value us enough to put in the effort so there typically wasn't much lost when you walked away from people who didn't really care about you to begin with.

Some of the worst relationships are non-reciprocal relationships.  We see examples of this every day:  abusive relationships that continue out of dependency on the abuser; children suffer because they crave the attention and love of a parent that walked away from them and their family and refuse emotional or financial support.

Don't give your money to a business who doesn't value it.

Don't give your time to a friend who doesn't appreciate it.

Don't give your heart to a love who isn't honorable with it.

We have enough things in life that hurt us.  Our realtionships shouldn't be one of them. 

Be Careful Little Mouth

The thing about parenting is that every day you're given the opportunity to teach new lessons to your kids.  You can teach them about electricity as they comment on the power lines on the way to school.  You can teach them about safety as they ask what the different signs on the side of the road mean.  You can teach them about manners while you wait in line at the store.  And you can teach them about decisions when you're told that they've been making bad ones.

Yesterday, we got to talk about the latter.

We've been seeing some major changes in Ty since school started (as happens every year).  He's been saying things that he knows he shouldn't say.  Calling people names.  Arguing, attitude...

When school starts every year, parents know that at least one of two things are going to happen.  Either your child's going to get sick or get a cold, or you're child's going to start behaving like someone else's heathen child.

Again, we're dealing with the latter.

And it's been breaking my heart because I know my kid really is a good kid.  He's just not making good choices at the moment.

So when Mom & Dad are informed that it's been a problem elsewhere, we decided we needed to step up the repurcussions to get his attention.

So Ty was given two choices.

A paddling or a full-minute with soap in his mouth.

The pained look on his face showed that neither choice was appealing, but in the end he chose the punishment that I--personally--was hoping he'd choose.

The soap.

Because that brings in a lesson of washing bad words and bad attitudes out of our mouth. 

So after 60 seconds of soap-in-the-mouth, we had a discussion about choices.  What other choices he could have made; how better he could have handled himself and the kid he was upset at.  After dicussing that and what the consequences would be next time he was finally allowed to go spit the taste of soap out of his mouth and get some water. 

And he was his old self after that!  My well behaved, fun and funny little boy resurfaced again!

Let's just hope he sticks around a little longer this time.

The Monster Under My Bed

When I was a little girl, when I turned off the light to my bedroom at night, I would get a running start and would jump from my doorway to the foot of my bed every night.

I had to.

It was life or death.

There was a monster under my bed.

It took watching Critters to realize that there were more terrifying things than wolves that might get me in the dark.  And besides, I had "Wolf Spray" (it may have smelled like air freshener, but it was wolf spray, the stick-on label said so) to keep the wolves away.

And so for years, I launched myself from the doorway to the top of my bed.  And it worked.  I survived my childhood without notable incident from any monsters that I knew were hiding under my bed.  (Or in my Christmas Tree, thanks to Gremlins....)

I became a teen and then an adult and then a parent and I got comfortable with my assumed safety from the monsters under the bed. 

Until last night/this morning, that is.  It was a close call--a matter of life and death--when at 5:00 this morning I woke with the realization that sharp teeth had just clamped around my big toe, which had been covered, but barely hanging over the edge of the bed.  What's worse, when I jumped and scrambled to save my life, the cat shot out of the room and into the living room as if whatever had come to get me out from under the bed were after him as well!

After an ordeal like that, you're pretty much awake, too.  Your heart races, you have to check to make sure all body parts are still attached.

After a close call like that you're reminded that you can never get too comfortable.  Just because they haven't struck yet, doesn't mean they're not there. 

I felt the teeth to prove it.

The monsters are real.

And they're hiding under my bed.

In Love | Houzz

I made the unfortunate mistake of discovering a new website last week.

It's bad.

Really bad.

It's all I want to do (besides reading, nothing can come between me and my reading).

A week into my new obsession and I've not even discovered a tenth of the wonders that this new website has to hold.

I've also discovered that The Husband and I don't make near as much money as we need to be making because now I want to re-model my current house AND I want to build a new house just so I can try out all the wonderful ideas that this website is giving me.

Like this.

It would be Boys Night every night at our house while Mama & Darcy (my Kindle) enjoyed a bubble bath.

Or this tub.  I'd feel like I lived in a movie if I had this tub.

I would need a room where I could build bunks into the wall like this.  And it'd need a communal table for card or board games and probably sectional seating for TV, movies or video games.  Cause it's where the kids, nephews & neices and all their friends would hang out.  Each bunk would need a little light of its own and a little shelf at the head, of it though, because late night reading is promoted at our house.

I'd have to have lots of land because I'd need the kids would need a spectacular pool out back like this...

And it wouldn't be very useful, but I've wanted a secret garden ever since I read the book.  And it'd have to have something like this in the center of it. 

And I'd need plenty of room for raised-gardens that my imagination tells me I would absolutely have to have.

Oh, and for The Huband, he would get a man-cave complete with this.

Except instead of a wet-bar (not very family friendly), I'd have him a man-kitchen for frying up hot wings and other man-food for the big game.

I could spend (and possibly will) the next year discovering all the wonderful things that Houzz.com has to offer. 

You should, too.

It's wonderful.

And just as addicting as Pinterest.

What Kind of Parent Are You?

One of my Facebook Friends posed a question to her fellow friends today. 

"Just curious. Do the parents of teenagers out there check the contents of their childs cell phone on a periodic basis? I really think it is important that I know what he is using his phone for. Although there are many ways that they can hide text messages and pictures that really surprised me when someone showed me this. Just curious what other parents do."
 A barrage of comments followed from other parents, most affirming that they do indeed 'snoop' (is it snooping if you're doing it for the purpose of protecting your kid?).  Some parents let their kids know, some parents hide it from their kids.

My comment(s) in response to this were:

"Mymobilewatchdog.com. I guarantee I'll do this and I'll let him know that everything he does, sends, or receives, I will have access to."

"I'll probably low-jack* his car, too. :P. He's going to hate my nerdy side from about age 11 until he's a parent himself."
*I meant lo-jack, but my iPhone thinks it knows what I'm trying to say better than I, myself, do.

Anyway.  I'm sure there are many sides to this coin.  To snoop or not to snoop?  To be open about it, or to try to catch them in the act?  Parenting itself is one delimma after another, and this particular circumstance presents itself with several.

For me, though, I will snoop.  And not only that, I will be completely up front about it. 

I currently have parental controls on his iPod and his computer account.  I have his passwords, not him (a 7 year old has no need to know his own passwords).  We have parental restrictions on the TV.  We limit what video games he plays and how much and how often he plays them.

When he gets a cell-phone someday, I'll have it on lock down.  His text messages will be duplicated and sent to me (and Jason if he so chooses).  His history and usage will be monitored.  His emails will be logged.  Everything he uses that phone for, I will have the option of viewing and reviewing.  And I might check it religiously or I might not check it except on occasion. 

I think you have to take a look at the kid and weigh out (and possibly re-weigh on a daily/weekly/monthly basis) the right to privacy versus the need for accountability.

But because I will be completely up front about it, I will probably not catch him in some of the behaviors that I'll be trying to guard him against and I'm okay with that because every time he sends or receives a text message he will learn to think, "Should I send this?", "What's the right way to respond to this?", "Are my parents going to think this is acceptable?"

And that's what I want.

My parents raised my sister and I with a trust-based system.  As long as we were doing right and being responsible, we didn't have strict curfews and tight restrictions placed on us.  If they knew where we were, what we were doing and who we were with they were pretty fair with us.  And it worked well for my sister and I. 

I do understand that different things work for different kids, but this is my parenting goal because even as an adult, I measure my decisions and my behaviors against my parents expectations of me.  What would they say?  What would they think?  How would they feel if they knew what I said, did, or where I went?  (Isn't that what we, as Christians, should be doing, too?)

And that's how I want my children raised.  Not because I want them to bow to me their whole life, I don't view it that way.  But because I want them to grow up respecting me. 

Because I want them to grow up holding their decisions to a moral code. 

I want them to think about the choices they make when they make them so that hopefully they won't have to deal with some of the repurcussions that could result from them. 

But also...I want to know when they're doing something potentially dangerous or reckless because then I can help them and teach them and protect them.  Because that's my job as a parent.  I also want to know when they're being rude or hurtful or ugly, because my job as a parent is to correct that behavior, too.  Or if they're being bullied or if they're suffering from depression...I need to know that too.

And another advantage would be that they would (hopefully) learn to think before putting temporary thoughts into permanent words that have the potential to be shared with more than just the recipient.  This was a hard lesson for me in the days of passing notes.  A note in the wrong hands was a hard thing to overcome because your exact words were inarguable at that point.  They're your words in your writing.  But our kids will grow up with text messages and social media messages posted on the Internet for the world to see, read, and respond to.  There's a lot more potential for your words to be used against you in today's world.

I'm sure my kids will be like me, they won't do everything perfect (probably especially where words are involved!).  They'll make mistakes and stupid decisions and they'll have to live with them and learn from them, just like I did.  But hopefully they'll make a few good decisions, too.  Hopefully they'll learn the meaning of accountability and maybe eventually they'll learn to hold themselves accountable too.

So when the day comes, I'll snoop and I'll let them know.  Because it's important to me that they know I'm watching them and I'm watching out for them.  But it's also important to me that they learn to be mindful of themselves, too.

Be Good and Do Good

Every morning when I take Ty to school, we have our own little spiel of conversations.  It usually starts as we leave the subdivision with a question or a comment made on his part.  Most days it somehow evolves into a lesson.  Whether it's a science lesson about lightning or electricity or an ethics lesson on why I think it would be unacceptable to beat Dad to teach him not to accidentally bump my side-mirror on my car when he gets out of his truck inside our over-crowded garage.  (True story...it baffles me the things he suggests sometimes)

This is how the course of our conversation goes for the almost-20 minute drive from our house to the school.  Every day it's a new topic, but the end-routine is always the same.  When we turn into the school drive I tell him to get his stuff ready (which means getting his backpack and lunchbox ready and going ahead and unbuckling so he can get out when the staff opens his door).  Thus begins Mama's standard goodbye.

"I hope you have a good day today, Bub."

"Thanks Mom."  (Sometimes he'll wish me the same.)

"I love you"

"Love you, too."

And as the door opens for him to embark on his day, I always tell him, "Be good and do good".

And the door closes and he's off.

And sometimes I wonder if he hears those words, but I always want them to be the last words he hears from me as he starts his day.

Be good and do good.

It's my wish for the kind of man he'll grow up to be.

I don't want him to just act right and behave inside the confines of polite society.  I want him to actively do right. 

I want his actions to be a reflection of who he is on the inside.  Because he's a compassionate and kind-hearted kid.  He's a do-gooder and a pleaser like his Mama.  But he's an only child, so he can be selfish.  He's a boy, so he can be loud.  And he's his learned enough from his PaPaw that he can be a little onery, too.  ;)

But down at the core of it all, he's good.  And that's not just a Mama's bias.

It is how I want him to stay, too.  So that's why, each day, as he's faced with new decisions, my final reminder to him is always "Be good and do good."

It's my wish for the boy he is and the man he'll grow up to be.

It Changes You

I found something out recently. 

Something I'm glad to know and yet I wish I didn't know at the same time.  You know how it works, I'm sure we've all been in that situation before.

The part that I'm glad to know is that someone who's under no obligation to like me or be kind to me showed me a kindness.  And it was something I would have no reason to ever know about.  It was something that no one would have blamed her for making a decision otherwise, because business is business.  But this person made a business decision based on a personal situation, and even though they have no obligation to like me or be kind to me, she made a decision that showed respect for me and my feelings (even though it was something that she would never know that I would find out about).  And she earned respect from me because of it.

The part that I wish I didn't know is that the aforementioned individual was put in in that position in the first place.  It was something that--had the above individual not been considerate of me and made a business decision based on business alone--I would have not only found out about, but would have had to endure with a quiet grace.  Because that's how I (try to) roll.

So there's this disappointment of the fact that it ever happened in the first place.  And there's this new respect and appreciation for how it was handled.

And no matter how small it seems in writing, it changes you.  On one hand, for the better, and on the other hand, for the worse.  But these things change you nonetheless.

What are you doing today that might change someone else's perspective tomorrow?  And what kind of change will you make in them?

Our actions and decisions long outlive the perceived results.  I hope to always be mindful of that.

Love is Kind

Love is patient.  Love is kind.
It does not envy.  It does not boast.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

When I love someone, I love them.  I love who they are, regardless of what they are on the inside or outside.

When I love someone, I cannot put exclusions, exemptions, amendments or conditions on that love.  I love them

If I love someone today, but tomorrow I find out that they have changed.  I still love them.

If I love someone and I find out that they're a different kind of person than I believed them to be, I still love them whether it was a good kind of different or a bad kind of different. 

Because I'm not loving the shoes on their feet or the color, cut or curl of their hair.  I'm not loving the kind of car that they drive or the fact that they smoke.  I'm not loving who or what they love.  I'm not loving the choices that they make or the consequences that come of them.

I am simply loving them.

I am a Christian. 

I am called to love.

We are all called to love, and--above and beyond--I find that this is what Christians do.  We don't hate.  We don't judge.  We love.

But if you've met with an exception...if you've known a Christian that failed to love you because they didn't like a part of you or who you are...I apologize on behalf of all Christians.  That's not the example that we--as a whole--wish to set.  That is not the example we were called to set.

So if you've found a Christian that didn't love you for you...I will. 

And I know many others that will, too, because they have loved me in spite of me.  They've loved me when I've failed, they've loved me when I sinned, they have loved me when I didn't love me. 

And we will love you, too.

Because you are not the sum of your failures or decisions.  You are not the color of your skin, the number on the scale, or even the reflection you see in the mirror. 
You are you. 

You are unique. 

You are amazing. 

You are deliberately and intentionally created to be you.

And you deserve to be loved.

Repurposing | Wine Box Wall Storage

Several weeks ago my mother-in-law gave me a beautiful wine box that I instantly fell in love with.

Isn't is beautiful!

The only problem was that I spent weeks looking for anywhere in my house to put it but I just couldn't find somewhere that it was just perfect.

I knew I wanted it in my living room or kitchen area, so it was more visible.

And the it occurred to me...why not put it here!

Not on the shelf...under the shelf.

We always have cables and memory cards and my external hard drive just laying around the computer desk (see on the left side of the computer!)  And while the cat leaves the cables alone...he absolutely adores a new set of ear-buds.

So I decided that this would be the absolutely perfect storage solution...and it would fill the blank space of having to remove a shelf to make room for our monitor.

Literally less than five minutes later, after adding two hangers to the back:

I was done!  And that empty space is now filled with this!

Which is not only lovely to look at, but now houses everything I'm so thankful not to be hiding under or behind my computer right now!

It's a win/win to me!

Blessings In Disguise

You can open the newspaper on any given day and see names splashed across it of people committing a crime or a social taboo that earns them the humiliation and publication of their sins for all to see.  And while I'm a very firm believer in "You do the crime, you pay the time", sometimes I read it and I sympathize for that individual or their family.  Sometimes my cheeks blush in embarrassment for them in what they're going through.  Because sometimes it's not a lifestyle or a habit that earns them the spotlight but one little decision. 

And because it's a difficult thing to be the focus of public speculation.  It's hard being a topic of hot gossip.  While, on one hand, it gives you thicker skin than you had before...on the other, it also coats you in a layer of paranoia that you've never dealt with either.

I learned all too well as a small-town single woman who fell pregnant with a baby whose father she wouldn't publicly disclose.

Try that on for size and see how much gossip it'll get you. 

If you've read my life story I wrote in 2009 (Learning to Live With Me), then you know the general story of the hows and the whens and the whys.

But I've never--publicly or privately--been able to word some of the things I felt and thought and went through during that time.  And quite a bit of it I doubt I'll ever be able to bring back to the surface. 

When I found out I was pregnant with Ty, I knew I couldn't hide it.  I abhor abortion (as is my prerogative) and so the first thing I knew I needed to do was tell someone so that I wouldn't even be faced with the temptation to consider such a thing.  I might have made an unwise decision, but I had no right to make another living being suffer the consequences so that I could take the easy way out. 

I also made the choice that I needed to be the one to tell the people I cared about.  And with the exception of my parents--thank God my sister was willing to step in for me the second I squeezed her hand....the thought of hurting them with my news felt like it would shatter me (more on that later)--I sat face-to-face with those that deserved to hear it from me and owned up to everything myself.

The night after we told my parents, I told the guy that I'd only recently started seeing.  Not a fun conversation telling the guy you've been seeing for two weeks that you're six weeks pregnant.  But he obviously deserved to hear it from me.  

The next night I had planned to tell the biological father--which I had major reservations about--but my own father intervened and asked me to hold off long enough to think it through because once it's said, it's said and there's no taking it back.  I knew that as soon as he heard that I was pregnant, he would obviously know that he was the father, but it didn't have to come from my mouth and then he could make the decision on his own as to if he wanted to play any part in our lives.  (Note:  I know everyone's wondering, yes, it would later be discussed with him. He would eventually--and voluntarily--sign over his parental rights so that Jason could adopt Ty)

That night, instead, I went to church and then followed the pastor's family home afterwards so that I could talk to them about it before they found out elsewhere.  I was very involved in that church and honestly tried to live my life in a way that honors Christ which is why I would also stand before our church congregation the following Sunday and tell them myself, as well.

But even though I was--I felt--handling things as best as I could, I still felt this enormous...in all my command of the English language I can't even find a word for it. 

When you know what society expects and when you know how people talk about the failures, mistakes and misgivings of others, you become constantly aware of that when you're the one in the spotlight.  You know exactly who is saying what about you because #1--you've heard them say it about others, and because #2--people report it back to you as if it's something you actually want to know.  ("I just thought you should know...and I wanted you to hear it from me" is a literal translation of "I know this will upset you, but I wanted to see your face when you found out" in most cases)

And the more you hear those "I thought you should knows" the more and more that you believe people are talking about you--whether they are or not.

Since I didn't publicly disclose the father of my baby, that seems to have added fuel to the fire.  An individual cornered the parent of one of my high school boyfriends (I was out of college by this time and long ago split from that ex) to ask if the baby was her son's and demanding that she needed to know.  This individual had absolutely no connection to me, my family, my friends or even anyone that might be connected to the father's side.  They were just nosy and curious and thought they had the right to know my private business.

And they weren't the only one who felt that way.  If I could have avoided the public completely, I would have.  I got cornered in Walmart, the Courthouse, the gas station...numerous places and people would flat out ask me to my face who the daddy was.  I would tell them--as politely as I could--that since it wasn't a public matter, I had already told the people who needed to know and wasn't telling everyone else.  And yet they would press me even beyond that.  I had two instances where individuals got outright mad at me and one even told me that it was just as much their business as it was my own!

The politeness ended there, of course, and I walked away.  That individual wasn't friend or family and barely registered as an acquaintance, but to pregnant and hormonal me they just became Public Enemy No. 1 as far as I was concerned.

But these people weren't counted among my family and friends.  And had it just been contained to them, it probably wouldn't have hurt or humiliated me as much.

When I stood before my church to tell them myself that I was pregnant and that I wanted my church family to hear it from my mouth, the response was overwhelmingly supportive.  Many of them reassured me and even stated that they would never have been able to do what I did in standing before everyone and making a public admission.  They had my back, they loved me, and they would be there for me.

But that only went so far because in successive weeks I was singled out in the sermons.  "Whoredome" was addressed many times while the preacher stared me down as if I were a demon trying to devour the blameless faithful of the congregation.  I stepped back from the level of involvement I previously had with the youth group, realizing that my example was compromised, but I left the church altogether when I was told (via email) that I should be glad that I wasn't born 2000 years ago because I would have been stoned to death.  When I realized that members (leaders) of that church would have been the ones casting the stones instead of intervening as Christ did, it was a very painful awakening for me.  Had I not been as strong in my Faith as I was and am, the leaders of that church (and their unloving, unforgiving example) would likely have turned me off from Christianity entirely.

Now, let me go back and take another road.  Let me explore the flip side of that coin.

Let's go back to the people who are family and friends.

After the initial surprise of my revelation to my sister, she kicked into excitement before I had really made it into accepting it as a reality.  I was still embarrassed by the situation and dreading telling our parents and she was already buying onesies and teddy bears!  But that's my sister, there's very little she does that she doesn't do with her whole heart.

Which is why I knew I needed her to be there when I told my parents.  I don't know why it was such a big deal to me because I knew I would have their love and their support no matter what I did.  Our relationship was based on love and respect and trust.  We never really had curfews in high school or college.  We had a relationship that where as long as they knew where I was and what I was doing and as long as I made it home by what they would consider a reasonable time, we were good to go.  I knew what behaviors they expected of me and what activities were acceptable and unacceptable.  And that was our relationship and it worked for us.  I respected them and they respected us and we just really didn't have that many problems (especially comparatively). 

But any girl who's ever been a Daddy's Girl can probably imagine why it was so hard for me to tell my parents.  It's a difficult conversation to have with parents, but throw in the level of admiration and respect that I have for mine...it seemed as impossible as climbing Everest when it should have seemed as simple as tying a bow.  I can't explain it and I can't explain why I can't explain it.

But the end result was a grin the size of the Grand Canyon on my dad's face.  I don't think he even had to process it, he just leapt blindly into the joy of "I'm going to be a Grandpa!"  And my mom did, too, but she's where I get my logic from.  I could see in her eyes that everything was going to be okay, and I could see that she was stepping through the logical steps of how everything was going to be okay. 

She helped me mark off the to-do list.

Proper diet & vitamins--check
Shopping sprees--checked that one several times! (this was her first grandchild, after all!)

The only thing they hated about my pregnancy was that I didn't have a husband to lay next to me at night and excitedly talk to my belly and make plans together about the future.  I wouldn't say they hated it (that's certainly not a word that anyone could link between them and my little boy that they so adore)...just that they wished for more for me.  Like good parents do.  They want the best for their kids.  A baby is a wonderful thing no matter how it happens, but they shared the joy and excitement of their pregnancies together and would have loved it if I could have had that experience then, too.

My friends were stunned by my news.  There's that small town stigma that the girls that get pregnant outside of marriage are sluts or girls who just give themselves to anyone.  My pregnancy wasn't consistent with that and so it was surprising and shocking to them that such a thing could happen to anyone.  (Funny how when you're young, you think you're immune to such things just because you're a good person with no bad habits.)

Family friends were the same as my parents.  I have good family friends that--to this day--still have not asked me who the father was or what I was thinking or how it happened.  It wasn't important.  I was important and the baby was important and all the trivial details just weren't.  They cared about what mattered and they helped to form the net of security and support that helped to fend off those who did care about the unimportant things.

In the end--just as I saw in my mom's eyes--everything was okay.  Everything was better than okay.  My sweet little baby Ty came into our lives at just the perfect time.  He was the joy needed to help us out of a period of sorrow.  He was laughter that helped dry our tears.  He is the catalyst of who I would become and who I currently am.

In that brief but memorable period of hurt or embarrassment, I learned who I was and who my true friends were.  Not only that, but the whole course of my life was changed.  What I did for fun, who I spent my time with, what I looked for in guys...it all drastically changed.  My priorities were rewritten almost from top to bottom.  I'm told that I became a more grounded and relateable person. 

I'd always assumed that I'd eventually be a mother because that's just how life happened, but I wasn't one of those women whose goal was to become a mother.  But you know how they say "Being a mother just changes you".  It changes you indeed!  I think my genetic makeup is sometimes the only thing that wasn't altered!

But because--for a short period of time--life got hard it had the opportunity to get better.  Because I was hurt, I got to heal.  Because of the friends I lost, I cherish the faithful ones all the more.  Because I was supported and loved, I know--by example--to be supporting and loving, myself.  Because I felt embarrassment for having done something wrong, I was given the opportunity to be proud of myself for owning up to it and doing something right.

And because I made a mistake, I learned that--in the end--the consequences of our actions typically result in an insurmountable blessing we would never have experienced otherwise.  We just have to persevere through the difficult period of "doing the time" to see it for the blessing it becomes.

Murphy Says...

Do you ever have one of those days where it seems like you can't do anything right and everything is going wrong?  July has been one of those days for me.

Cousin Murphy apparently came for an extended stay at the Harris Household.

Everyone knows Murphy. 

He's the one that (accurately) said "What can go wrong, will go wrong."

My Daddy always added that line at the end of it that amended "and at the worst possible time."  And today I say "Amen" to that!

Murphy got an early start in June when he Yellow-lighted my husband's PS3.  Not anticipating any of the following problems we'd face, Jason decided that instead of waiting untill his birthday or Christmas to replace the PS3, he'd rather get a replacement now and consider it his present when those times came up.  At that point in time, we could make it work financially without any major issues.

And that was where it all began. 

Our freezer took a temporary hiatus at the beginning of the month that cost us all of our frozen treats, ice cream, and a good bit of meat, too.  Fortunately, I noticed the puddle of bloody water while most of the meat was still at refrigerator temp, so not all was lost.  Thank the heavens. 

The following weekend the leather on two of my door-panels peeled away after the heat disintegrated the glue that was holding it in place.  Having dealt with this on another door last summer, I knew that to replace it with OEM parts would be $550-$700 per door.  Or to get an automotive shop to fix it would be $75 for the one door.

We weren't touching those just yet, though, because it also appeared that I would need new rear brakes on my car, as well.

I priced that out and it was going to be $180 no matter how you diced it.  (Fortunately my Daddy swept in and saved the day and gave my car a complete once-over.) 

During the time that my dad had my car and was working on it, we were preparing for The Boy's birthday party.  I had set aside that Friday night to do all the cooking so Saturday could be a quick clean-up before the party.  However when we came home that night we found we had no electricity.  We got as much done as we could without electricity (which was basically just putting together and filling the favor boxes) and then we hung out as long as we could before we were forced to retreat to a hotel that night for some rest.  The ETA for repairs had started at 6 pm, then got pushed back to 10 pm, 12 am and 3 am.  They finally got it restored at 1:30.

The next day I blew through all the preparations and got everything done just in time.  My dad returned my car in perfect working order.  Whatever was causing the noise when I braked has since ceased and no rear brakes were needed.  At just under 80,000 I'm only halfway into the ones I have.  The lack of that repair bill was such a pleasant surprise that we decided that since I'd already separated the cost of the brakes out of our budget, we'd put that into fixing the leather door panels on the car.  We just had them do all four of them so we'd have it all over and done with.  Since we were doing all four, it cost significantly less than it would have to do them separately at $75 a door.

How soon we forgot how Murphy works. 

Within 24 hours of getting my doors fixed I dropped my new-ish bottle of Coach Poppy perfume and broke the sprayer top off of it.  I didn't lose (much of) the perfume, thankfully, so I can still buy an atomizer and only be out that cost instead of the whole bottle.  (Super glue wouldn't hold the glass together, I tried)

And within mere hours of that, we were driving down Interstate 540 headed to Oklahoma to see my cousin and her new baby when we heard this God awful noise of something hitting my car and my sunroof shattering.

I guess if there's an upside to this it would be that whatever hit us appears to have only hit the sunroof so there's no body damage to my car.  And the glass held in the frame and stayed (overall) intact.  Plus the sun shade was closed at the time so no glass or fragments would have come in even if they'd splintered free (which happened when an 18-wheeler sped past us with such force that it sucked the broken glass up in such a way that it now not only appeareed to have been hit from the inside instead of the outside, but it whistled in the 70 mph wind for the rest of the trip, too.

We got to my cousin's house and her sweet FiancĂ©, Mic, taped it up for us to help weather-proof it and keep the glass from falling in on us (should we open the sunshade).

And of all times for this to happen, it couldn't be during the month-long drought we experienced last month, it has to happen when we're finally getting afternoon showers several times a week.

Thankfully....I'm insured.  While it will cost us a deductible to get this fixed, it will cost us much less than it would to cover it all ourselves.  And thankfully--as my mom pointed out--we didn't have to endure what some of my former coworkers have to deal with when the windshield busted out one hour into a 6 hour trip in the cold of winter. 

However, I still wish Murphy would bugger off and leave us alone!  August can't get here soon enough!