Monday, September 28, 2015

One Hundred

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on Sunday, September 27, 2015. 
Right now your eyes are experiencing the monumental occasion of reading my 100th column in the Miami News-Record. Do you feel the excitement? I do! It’s a little bit staggering to me since that means I’ve come up with 100 ridiculous stories to tell you folks. This whole thing started when I was asked to write about homeschooling for National Education Week or somesuch something or ‘nother. After that, I was asked to make it a weekly thing and well, here I am 2 ½ years later. Yes, I know that if you do the math there should be more, but have only eked out 100 because hey, I get busy sometimes what with teaching my children proper comma usage and how to become productive members of society, drinking stupid amounts of coffee and Sonic sweet tea, and other really crucially important things like that.
My writing started with a blog back in June of 2004 back when the internet as we know it today was merely a toddler. Blogging was very new and not many people did it. At first no one read the blog. Not even my mom. I didn’t know what to write about and in looking back at the first few posts, they’re rather embarrassing. Then when I realized that no one was actually reading them except my sister, I relaxed and stopped trying to perform and started just telling my stories about the kids, about growing up in Oklahoma, about the insane stuff that happens around here. Then, a funny thing happened: people started reading. And before I knew it I had an audience. I had followers. I had fans. My mom was convinced I had stalkers. (I didn’t.)I was nominated for the Okie Blog Awards and won Best Humor Blog two years in a row and beat Pioneer Woman for Best Rural Blog the last year of the awards. The kids say it’s my claim to fame. I haven’t told them yet that she won Best Overall Blog. Shh. They still think I’m famous.

Mom’s gotten a little more comfortable with me putting my life out there for all to read. I dare say she’s my biggest fan; she’s very proud of me, my momma. She still cringes from time to time, especially when I write about poop or farts, but she’s probably figured out by now that my stories just NEED a certain amount of poop and farts to be what they are. (Mom, I know I said both words twice. Please get out from under your desk now. No one holds you responsible.)
I’ve been recognized in Walmart more than a few times. My Junior High English teacher reads me every week. (Hi, Mrs. Reid. I love you. You’re the reason I love commas so much.) Few things make me happier than for someone to come up and tell me I made them laugh on a Sunday morning. I hear I’m even read before the obituaries in some households. I feel like if I can beat out the obits, my life hasn’t been for naught.
My family has, for the most part, adjusted to having parts of their lives printed in black and white for the entire world – okay, all of Ottawa County – okay, a good portion of the Miami area – to see. They really have no choice in the matter simply because those crazy people help make me who I am and add so much to this silly life of mine. Stories of sisters and brussel sprouts, of woobies and hamsters, of ups and downs, of love and of loss – these are the stories I love to tell and I am thrilled that you all love to read them. At least, you all keep telling me you love to read them. If you’re fibbing to me, I am going to be SO embarrassed and then I’ll really have to apologize to Mom for all the poop and farts.

Thank you, Constant Reader, for, well….for reading. I am honored to be a part of your Sundays.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Beards and Man Buns

Originally posted in the Miami News-Record on September 20, 2015

Last week I had the privilege of volunteering at the county’s Man Up conference. This was my second time to help out with Man Up and I gotta say….a lot has changed in two years. Now, keep in mind Paul and I have been out of youth ministry for over a year and a half now, and our kids are not in public school, so I guess that puts me at risk for being out of the loop when it comes to what’s going on with young dudes these days.

My husband graduated in 1982, back when moustaches were all the rage. You know, the moustaches I’m talking about – the ones usually worn by the creepy guys in movies who own cameras with telescopic lenses and drive vans with no windows. I graduated high school in 1991. Not one single guy in my glass walked the stage on graduation night with hair on his face. The guys of the early 90’s were more interested in the hair atop their noggins, not on their faces. Anyone remember the re-emergence of the bowl cut? How about shaving their jersey numbers into the sides of their heads? Oh and we can’t talk about guy hair in the 90’s without mentioning the frosted-tips on a super spikey, so-much-hair-gel-it-was-downright-dangerous ‘do.

Last week, if I hadn’t known I was at Man Up, I’d have sworn I was either at a lumberjack reunion or a Duck Dynasty convention. The beards on those boys! I was absolutely in awe of these 16 and 17 year old guys with more facial hair than Professor Dumbledore or Abraham Lincoln. And in doing “research” (read: I searched the Google) for this column, most men don’t really have the ability to grow serious facial hair until they are in their mid-20’s. So what is in the public water supply around here? Straight up testosterone mixed with a little Propecia??  

I also saw more than one man bun. If you haven’t seen one of these things yet, Google it. Or better yet, don’t. That is one trend I do not understand nor will I ever be able to embrace. I keep seeing these things here and there and I just don’t get it. I recently had about six inches cut off my own hair, so I know the value of a good messy bun day. When your hair is so long you can’t do anything with it other than bun it, it’s time for a trim. But if you want long hair, guys, let it hang gloriously down your back or gather it into a neat ponytail. Please don’t wrap it up strangely on top of your head like a little nubbin of keratin and protein and expect the vast majority of women to compliment you. Especially here in Oklahoma. I guarantee you, you probably can’t fit a John Deere or Realtree cap over that strange little bun so seriously, what’s the point?

At the risk of sounding like I have found a soap box on which to stand and shout, I will just end this with some friendly advice. As the wife of a redneck man and the mother of a nearly 17 year old guy, I have been in two barber shops multiple times over the last 23 years and never once have either of my boys come out with a man bun. Nick Koronis gave Sam his first haircut on his first birthday and over the last 17 years if Nick hasn’t been available, Larry Linthicum has stepped up and taken care of business. My husband has grown quite attached to Mr. Ed over the past few years as well and in my opinion, if Mr. Ed can’t take care of your hair cutting needs, you are entirely too high maintenance.

Keep it simple, fellas. Leave the buns to the baker.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Emptier Nest

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on September 13, 2015.

Last weekend we moved our oldest, Abby, into her own house. I didn’t shed a single tear the entire day. In fact, I have yet to cry over the whole thing. Now, her daddy on the other hand has had a significantly harder time with this than I have.

While I’m usually the cry-er, that wasn’t the case this time. So even though I didn’t “get” his sadness, I just patted him awkwardly and said, “Geez, it’s not like she moved to China. We’ll see her again next week. Good grief.” Apparently he viewed this as a bit cold. I tried. I really thought that was comforting. But he pats me awkwardly when I am hysterically crying over an episode of “Downton Abbey” even though he thinks I’m silly beyond measure. This time it was simply my turn to awkwardly pat him even though I didn’t understand why he was so upset. I suppose I should expect him to be a little less sympathetic the next time I’m crying while the Crawleys celebrate Christmas at the abbey. (And if you’ve ever watched “Downton Abbey” you know the Christmas episodes are absolute tear-jerkers.)

I have been nothing but elated for Abby since she first started talking about moving out on her own. When I was 19, I moved to Stillwater with a friend from high school and lived there all of six weeks. I was so homesick I ran back home with a bruised ego, feeling a bit of a failure. (It all worked out  – I met my Pauly a month after moving back.) So really, I have never lived on my own. I went from living in my momma’s house, a short stint with a roommate, back to Mom’s, to living in my husband’s house. And 23 years later, I’m still living in the midst of this glorious circus with these crazy monkeys I married and gave birth to. Abby’s getting to live monkey-free for awhile and that’s very cool.

I’ve had so many people console me and tell me “it’s going to be okay” and I’ll “get through it” and I’m like, “Yeaaaaaah … *blink blink*… I know. I’m excited for her….should I not be?” and then I usually get stared at like I’ve suddenly grown tentacles or something.

She’s learning that it’s okay to be alone. She’s paying her own bills, cooking her own food (mostly chicken strips and mac and cheese), going to her job every day, and has decorated her house the way she wants to decorate it. (The plethora of Eiffel Towers in virtually every room is testament to that.) She and her dog are settling in to this grand thing called Life on her terms, in her own way, and I am THRILLED for her. When she tripped a breaker the other day, she had to figure it out on her own. (Of course, she called her Daddy to help her, but she fixed it on her own while he talked her through it.) She is also fighting an ant invasion and has figured out that if she lets the dishes sit in the sink that is a very bad thing. She is potty training a year and a half old dog, proving the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” wrong. She is decoupaging every light switch and outlet cover in the house pink and silver and polka dots. I am so proud of her, living this chapter of her life quite bravely and awesomely.  

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I miss her something fierce. But for now, she can’t afford cable and we can, so we know that every Sunday night she’ll show up at our house for dinner that is definitely not chicken strips and macaroni and cheese and to watch “The Walking Dead.”  I’ll get my Abby fix and zombie fix all in the same night. Life is good. Even if our nest is a little emptier. 

The Woobie

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 30, 2015

They were just cloth diapers, however we didn’t use them for that. I bought them second-hand from my boss at the time. His boys were out of infanthood and I was a newlywed with dreams of a family. So they were tucked away in the spare room until the blessed event occurred.

Abby was our most prolific puker. We ran the gambit of formulas in attempts to quell the fount of ...stuff that emitted from our baby. Those cloths were put through their paces her first year. While the burp cloths were ever present and actually a part of my wardrobe that first year, (seriously, every picture of me taken during Abby’s first year shows me sporting a cloth diaper on my left shoulder – it’s comical, really) she had no particular attachment to them.

Then her brother came along and once again we dragged out the burp cloths. It was a force of habit to start wearing a burp cloth on my left shoulder even though he wasn’t the projectile spewer his sister had been. But a funny thing happened when he wasn’t very old – we noticed that when we picked him up, he found that ever-present cloth and grabbed it up in his tiny little hand. He would clutch it and love on it and soon, he was our own little Linus. We started tying a knot in the end of one so we’d know not to wipe up slobbers, boogers, or spits with it. And it wasn’t long before it had a name: it was The Woobie. He went to bed with it, woke up with it, drove it around in his Tonka dump truck, and ate with it in his lap. After he was weaned off the bottle and no longer needed a burp cloth, Woobie still hung around. He had about three dozen to choose from and we just rotated them out when they started smelling weird or I felt they might start standing up on its own. I mean, they were all identical, so they were easily interchangeable.

Then SURPRISE! We found out we were going to have a Kady! And while we tried to convince brother that the new baby was going to need the burp cloths for actual burping, he didn’t buy it. We finally reached an agreement – he would keep three for himself and the rest had to go to his new sister. And because he was in the throes of stinky boy-ness, I promptly dyed them all bright pink so he would want nothing to do with the ones he donated. It worked. He said pink was gross.

Then a new generation of Woobie was born, all pink and girly. It wasn’t long before we were tying a knot in the end of one to keep it goo-free. And that sweet girl carried those pink raggedy hunks of cloth everywhere, even more than her brother did. By the time Kady was born, those burp cloths were in the neighborhood of 23 years old. They held up well, I think.

Tucked safely in their keepsake boxes are many things – locks of hair, birth announcements, etc. In Abby’s is a paci with no end (creative habit-breaking on my part). In Sam’s is a very dingy Woobie with a knot in the end. And in Kady’s, a tiny 4x4 piece of the palest pink, ratty, threadbare fabric that is all that is left of the very last Woobie. Sam’s was washed before I put it away and in my tenderest of Mommy moments, I will breathe deep into it and reminisce of the scent of his little boy noggin. Kady’s, however, was in such bad shape it could not be washed before it was put away. It would have disintegrated for sure.  I don’t sniff around on that one. I think it’s better to remember the smell of her little head without partaking of the Woobie. It’s probably just safer for my nasal passages. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Shifts and Changes

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 23, 2015

 Paul quit his job a few weeks ago. It was a scary life event, I have to admit. In the nearly 23 years we’ve been together, he’s had nary a day of unemployment. He committed to being our breadwinner all those years ago and has worked very hard for us over the years. He’s worked in a factory where he was exposed to lead on a daily basis and got a monetary bonus if his blood tested in the “safe” level. (“Here you go sir. You get a bonus for not poisoning yourself stupid this week. Have a nice day.”) He’s worked in an auto garage where temps would hit upwards of 115° in the summer and well below freezing in the winter. He’s mowed many a lawn. And he’s most recently been in a casino where he was miserable. He’s always worked hard for us, even when it wasn’t fun or remotely enjoyable.

So when he called me one day on his lunch break and said, “I think I’m going to quit my job,” I know it took a few minutes for my brain to register what he had said. I said, “Oooooookay….” and even though I was doing a mental freakout like one of those cartoons from that new Disney movie, I added, “I support you.” He didn’t quit that day and I was secretly thankful. And he didn’t quit the next day or even the next week. And I continued being thankful all while I stockpiled groceries and laundry detergent – just in case.

Then the day came when he called me once again on his lunch hour and said, “When I leave today, I’m not coming back,” and I found myself once again saying, “Okay, “ and I took a deep breath and added “and ….. I support you,” all while my little cartoon Panic guy was doing this crazy parcour ninja routine all over my brain in full-on meltdown mode.

I want to be a good wife and a good mom and I would do anything in the world for this crazy clan I call my own. And sometimes being the good wife or mom means just saying, “I love you. I support you. I don’t necessarily understand you, and I’m more than a little freaked out, but I support you.” And then you pray. A lot. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16 KJV). I’m not saying I’m overly righteous, but lately my prayers have been pretty fervent in hopes of availing.

He was only unemployed two weeks before he found a new job that so far he really likes. It’s not day shift, but that’s okay. It’s hard work, but he’s no stranger to it and he’s willing to do it. His first night, he called me on his dinner break to tell me “They’re doing everything they can to make this old fat man sweat!” but he said it feels good to DO something, not sit behind a desk. It was a significant pay cut to start and we have some budget adjusting to do for the next few months, but we can do it. I am a coupon clippin’ fool and my sister guides me in the ancient Way of the Ad-Matches. My mother has sworn that we will not starve and asks me about every other day if I need butter or coffee. (The woman knows what is really important.) My mother-in –law has said she’ll help with bills if we need it. We have a great support system and pretty amazing kids who know that while things might be tight around here for awhile, we’ll be taken care of and that their daddy is a diligent provider for us. Plus, right now they’re digging the fact that we eat cereal or popcorn for dinner several nights a week and we can watch “Doctor Who” and “Downton Abbey” rather than “Cops” until bedtime.

Sometimes change is scary, but I do love a good adventure sometimes. Not too often, but sometimes.     

The Manager

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 16, 2015

While I was given supernatural mom-munity a few weeks ago when my entire family got the vile stomach bug that’s going around, apparently my super power wore off and I succumbed this past week. Instead of getting up on a sunshiney Tuesday morning to start our fourth year of homeschooling with my two beloved, smiling-faced, school-aged children I instead spent the entire day sleeping and barfing. Sam and Kady are both very independent learners and do the vast majority of their work on their own without too awful much from me, but I just couldn’t turn them loose on a new school year without being present. I like to call it responsible parenting and schooling. It might also be that I have control issues. But I digress.

Finally, after 14 horrendous hours of the worst stomach virus I’ve had in probably 20 years (No, I’m really not exaggerating) I managed to regain some semblance of consciousness. I wearily pleaded with my husband to bring me a Coke. We don’t normally keep soda around the house and the last I had bought as a treat for the 4th of July was gone. Bless his heart, he valiantly drove to Turtle Stop to not only get a 12-pack, but also a pre-chilled bottle for my immediate consumption. I tried really hard to not think about how much he spent on convenience store soda and held back my desire to tell him that he could have gotten it cheaper somewhere else. I just sipped the dark, carbohydrate-delivering liquid that normally would never touch these lips and tried not to see dollar signs before my eyes nor dwell on the chemicals entering my weary body. After nibbling on some saltines and polishing off my Coke, I left the bedroom to seek the company of my family, who I was absolutely positive had missed some something awful during my hiatus.

It looked like they’d hosted a rave right in the middle of our double-wide.

There were blankets strewn about the living room like they’d made a veritable blanket fort mansion. There were Eskimo Joe’s cups in every cup holder – one with milk that was bordering on a state I can only describe as “thick”. The TV volume was on approximately 492 and they were watching “Storage Wars”. Actually, no. No one was actually watching the TV. It was just on. Apparently entertaining the blankets.

The kitchen counters looked like a family of rabid raccoons had been turned loose to scavenge and had done so quite successfully. The Hostess cakes I had bought as a treat just the night before (with a coupon!) had been all but obliterated and nary a crinkly white wrapper had found a home in the trashcan. Someone had made tea – and those who had consumed it had wantonly set the pitcher down repeatedly on the actual counter top. We have white counter tops and I always set the pitcher on a paper towel to avoid stains. People, there. were. stains. So many stains.  The clean dishes were still safely housed in the dishwasher and dirty ones were piled so very high in the sink. There were crumbs EVERYWHERE. I don’t handle crumbs well. I stepped on something questionable – I think it was raccoon poop.

And that was when I lost it. Still in my pajamas from the previous night, my hair in the worst bed-headed state imaginable and pale as a ghost, I’m sure I looked slightly crazier than I actually was, but that’s okay. I like to go for dramatic effect. I think I made my point, though. The makings of the blanket mansion were transformed into neat folded piles. Wrappers magically danced to the trashcan. Crumbs disappeared. There were voices mumbling “Sorry, Momma” and “Glad you’re feeling better, dear” any time they got in my vicinity.

I think they need me. They need me to manage them. And keep them safe from scavenging raccoons. And possibly themselves.   


[Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 9, 2015]

If you’ve ever seen the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? you’ll likely remember the scene where Everett was in dire need of some pomade and a car part. He was told the car part could be there in two weeks. Then when he discovered the store only carried Fop pomade, not Dapper Dan, he was told he could have his pomade in two weeks as well. He exclaimed, “Well, ain’t this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!”  Well, come to find out, Hooverton Mountain out here in the wilds of Wyandotte is a geographical oddity as well – we are 40 minutes from four Walmart stores. We can visit Grove, Miami, Joplin and Neosho Walmart all in the same amount of time. It’s almost like we are smack in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle of mass-market retail. We are only 15 minutes from Seneca, so for an item or two I’ll run there instead of having to trek 40 minutes to a Walmart and Abby is always good to pick things up for me on her way home from work – however, Abby is getting ready to move out and my errand-runner will no longer be available. It was starting to look like I was going to have to run my own unscheduled errands. *gasp!*

Sam has been 16 since last November and has had his permit since last summer, but driving was so far down on his list of priorities I was starting to think he was never going to drive. He was the same way about walking, too. His older sister walked at 10 months. We kind of expected him to walk early as well. Nope. The kid was completely content to sit where he was and holler until someone picked him up. He walked at 14 months only because I stopped picking him up when he bellowed. He finally walked only because I think he was afraid we’d stop feeding him and little dude really liked his groceries.

He dragged his feet on finishing his Driver’s Ed program – so much so that I begged for some grace by the company and got a free extension so he could finish and take the final because we needed that discount on his insurance, by golly. He finally finished and was legal to take the test, but refused to drive the car. Or I’d coerce him into driving on the highway, but he’d refuse to drive in town. It was rather frustrating because I just kept thinking about how inconvenient it was going to be to have to put on a bra and makeup to go pick up a loaf of bread.

My husband gave us both a stern talking-to and told him to start driving and me to start making him. We both had to man up so last week he drove in town and I didn’t give in when he begged me to let him stop. It was exhausting for both of us. My Pops asked if he could take him driving and I was so glad to let him I think I cried a little bit. Pops had really helped my drive-shy niece get ready for her test and I was more than willing to let him help Sam. After a day of driving Pops brought my boy back to me and said, “Hon, he’s ready. Let him test.” It was Pops’ faith in him that got the kid his license this past week.

So now, mere weeks before my oldest child moves out into her own place, I have a second child with a driver’s license. He plans to drive himself to a church back-to-school bash this weekend AND to Vo-tech next week. Eek! 

I’m starting to think there’s a conspiracy amongst my children to age their daddy and me as swiftly as they possibly can. There’s a whole lot of growing up going on around here these days. 

A Whole Lot of Nothin'

[Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 2, 2015.]

I try not to miss writing this column too often, but sometimes it can’t be helped. Last week 4/5 of us came down with a horrifically vile stomach bug that had me changing trash cans, spraying Lysol, applying cool cloths to hot faces, bleaching anything that looked remotely germy, and washing every sheet, pillowcase, and blanket in the house every time someone recuperated only to begin the whole process over again when the next one bit the dust. I just opted to just take the week off. I don’t think I could’ve written anything intelligent anyway. Paul and I slept on the couches or an air mattress for a solid week while the kids convalesced in our room close to a bathroom and nightly my slumber was punctuated multiple times by barfing teenagers or husband. Needless to say, I was kind of doofy by my Friday noon deadline anyway. But hurrah for “mom-munity” because once again everyone in the house got sick except me. Although … a few days in bed sounded kind of nice by week’s end.

In my “free” time I have been working on lesson plans. My dining room table hasn’t seen the light of day since July 4th . I am in the home stretch, though, and by the end of the weekend should have both kids’ lessons written out through Christmas break. I have been having strange dreams about Moby Dick, the Jamestown colony, Hiawatha’s wedding, sentence diagrams, sonnets in iambic pentameter, and business ledgers for the better part of the month. Something tells me I need a vacation. Well, either that or some medication.

Not long after we moved a year and a half ago my washing machine stopped agitating. The repair guy said it was the transmission and it was on borrowed time. Well, we borrowed three days then she gave up the ghost. We took our monthly date night to Lowe’s to purchase a new Whirlpool. The new machine was fancy and weird, but we adjusted. Over time I grew accustomed to the strange clanking noises the owner’s manual said were normal as the load leveler and automatic doohickeymabobber did their jobs. But alas, a mere week after the one-year warranty went out, she began her death cry – a horrible racheting sound that makes the coyotes howl and the cats run for cover. It also makes my husband grumble and the kids moan. It just makes me see dollar signs. A call to my favorite repair guy went like this:

“Did you buy any kind of extended warranty on that washer?”


“Well, you should have.”


Last June I began the construction of my very first rag rug. I got this crazy Pinterest-fueled idea to make all of my sister’s and my kids a handmade (with love!) rug. The idea was to present them as graduation presents. Since Abby had already graduated and my nephew Trust was about to be born I decided to tackle Trust’s first as a birthin’ gift then would finish Abby’s immediately after then be on track to finish my niece’s long before her graduation this coming May. I put the last stitch in my squishy baby nephew’s rug last Monday, a week before his 1st birthday. So his birthin’ gift has turned into his birthday gift and I learned that homemade rag rugs aren’t to be rushed. I also hope he doesn’t mind that toward the end I jammed the needle into my finger so hard I kind of bled on his rug. But it’s on the underside, so as long as no one inspects it too closely, we’re good. It turned out really pretty and I’m proud of how it looks (blood and all). I know how to make things go smoother for the next one. And the good news is my niece should expect her rug in May.

Of 2025.

Inappropriate Laughter

I love to laugh, I love to make people laugh, and I love to hear people laugh – unless I’ve gone to town in shorts; then I’m suspicious of laughter in my vicinity. Laughter is a huge part of who I am, however, this gift of laughter is also a bit of a curse at times. Like, when I can’t control it in embarrassing, unfortunate, and/or awkward situations.

Granny Glenn passed away when I was pregnant with Abby – so pregnant I was convinced that when she wasn’t using my bladder for a pillow, she was kickboxing with it. My sister, Cousin Courtney, and I were shuffling quietly and serenely into the chapel of the funeral home when Aunt Erma accidentally took a picture, setting off a blinding flash only capable by the old school flash cubes of the 70’s and 80’s. It was 1996 and Aunt Erma was still blinding everyone with flash cubes and also, did you catch that she brought a camera to a funeral?? We three girls began giggling when my giant belly nearly knocked over four people as we shuffled down the row, giggled harder when the camera flash went off, but we spiraled out of control when my giggling paired with a sucker punch by my gestating daughter caused me to wet myself right there in the Cooper-Althouse chapel. After a quick run to the bathroom where we nearly collapsed from laughter, we managed to regain control only to spontaneously begin again several times throughout the service. Hopefully folks behind us perceived the shaking of our shoulders with crying, not laughter.

My mom, Uncle David, and I are all afflicted with a phenomenon known as “Furniture Relocation Hysterics.” It’s a medical condition that appears to be in remission, then attacks the patient when they lift a piece of furniture more than six inches off the ground. It is then that the laughter commences, thus causing muscle weakness, loss of breath, tears, and sometimes loss of bladder control. It has also on occasion caused bruised shins, smashed toes, and irritated husbands.

As a teen, once during the Lord’s Supper, the cups were filled too full. Mom, Sis and I were carefully holding our miniscule cups, full to the brim, all three of us getting more and more tickled because the more we tried to not laugh, the more we laughed and the closer we came to spilling Welch’s grape all over our Sunday best. We were never so glad to hear the words, “Drink this in remembrance of Me” in our lives.

More recently, I was plagued with a case of inappropriate laughter when the kids’ doctor tried to convince me to vaccinate my youngest for HPV, a vaccination I am not comfortable with after reading about some serious side effects. This did not please the doctor who then informed me that I was going to watch a video. I informed him that his video would not change my mind. He sat his iPad firmly down in front of me and said, “Watch this.” What followed was a parody video extolling the virtues of the vaccine and at the same time describing all of the horrible things that could happen to my child by not vaccinating her. Did I mention it was all set to the tune of a 1991 acoustic ballad with an added awkward bass drop and rap solo at the end? I tried so hard to keep a straight face, but I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t a good example to my kids that day – especially since they had maintained straight faces until they saw that I was giggling while tears streamed down my face. By the time the video ended, all three of us were beyond laughter and had slipped over to uncontrollable guffaws. It was definitely not my most shining parental example, but in addition to a legacy of informed selective vaccination rebellion, I hope to leave behind a legacy of laughter. Hopefully the kids will learn to control the laughter better than I ever have. 

Gettin' My Survivalist Redneck ON! (A review)

Occasionally I get requests for product reviews. Some are legitimate, some are not. And sometimes I am just simply not in the mood to review bulk fiber laxatives or "websites for seniors".

But when Angie from Offroad Power Gear sent me an email a few weeks ago I definitely knew I couldn't pass up her request!

She sent out some of their Permanent Matches and some Bullet Earrings to check out in exchange for my review. 

Pauly and Sam instantly started playing with the permanent matches and they are now attached to both guys' keychains. It's a good thing she sent three because I have one for my purse, too! 

These little bad boys have the power to be lit over 15,000 times! If you're like us, you're always in need of a lighter or match because, well.....because you're always blowing stuff up or setting something on fire. It takes a little bit of practice to get the strike right, but once you figure it out, you can strike it on the first try every time. Don't be daunted by the $14.99 price - they are worth it!  

Refillable with your lighter fluid of choice, these are a must-have for all good preppers, outdoors-y type folks, and of course -- rednecks. I've seen others in stores, but I like these better because they strike fast and the price is lower than I've found. And the fact that they're good for at least 15,000 strikes, well, you can't beat 'em.  

She also sent us a few pair of their Bullet Earrings and I gotta say, while the permanent matches were awesome, the girl in me was squealing (yes, literally) over these earrings. The girls and I had seen a version of these over the summer and all three commented on how rockin' we would all look in them, but the price the store wanted was way out of our price range. Imagine how excited I was to see that Offroad Power Gear has them WAY cheaper! 

The pair Miss Kady is sporting here is the opal in yellow gold. These are real Luger 9mm* casings that have been cleaned and polished and the stones are Swarovski gems.  And the opal stone catches the light and shines like crazy! They're nice and heavy, but not uncomfortable to wear. They just look so cool. Oh and? They. are. awesome.   

She also sent a pair of the Midnight Diamond and those are mine. Only mine. And I'm not a good share-er.  

(And aren't Kady's little cheek freckles just the cutest?)

Most of the bullet jewelry is on sale right now and hey, Christmas is coming! All the redneck women in your life need a pair of these in their stocking. And if you don't have a redneck woman in your life, you can always just buy me some. My birthstone is garnet

Go visit their website and check out all the wicked cool truck gear they have. From truck decals, clothing, jewelry, gear and more, they pretty much have you covered no matter what you need. Or want. (They have a sweatshirt that says "Certified Redneck" that I also hope to find under the tree this year...hint hint, Paul....sweetie....honey...) And be sure to like them on Facebook

*Caliber and make of bullet may vary.